Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ich bin John F. Kennedy

I was away last week in Germany, visiting Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Stuttgart.   It was interesting to see this building in Darmstadt, at the intersection of the tramlines through the heart of the city.  It was built as an American cultural center in the 1950s and renamed for Kennedy following his death in 1963.  Germans remain very big on Kennedy, not just for him standing up to the wall in 1963, but for the optimism he brought the world at a time Germany was still very much rebuilding its national identity.

Remnants of the Berlin wall can be found throughout Germany, as it divided a nation, not just a city.  There was a segment of it in Frankfurt in the heart of its commercial district.  The events of 1989 resonated throughout the world, as the Soviet Union and its satellite states crumbled before our eyes on television.  There was much talk of how German reunification would be felt throughout the world, but it has been without doubt for the greater good of the country and Europe.

Hard to believe a whole generation has grown up since these times.  You can now find Starbucks, Urban Outfitters and other hip American brands throughout Germany, but it is this culture house and others like it that reveal the ongoing commitment between the United States and Germany for greater unity and shared identity.  The words of John F. Kennedy live on.

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