John F. Kennedy's Message of Unity
by Sukh Singh, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International
On June 26th, 1963, President John F. Kennedy came to Berlin, Germany, where he saw a city divided by war. It was the height of the cold war and Germany was now a country quite literally divided in two, half under western democratic control and the other half by the Soviet Union. Berlin itself was famously split by the intimidating structure of the Berlin Wall. What Kennedy said to the people on that day went down in history and the meaning and significance of his words are absolutely still relevant today - in our own homes, our careers and the wider world, in areas still torn by conflict there still remains a great deal of division between us all...
Here's an insight into how his speech was born from The Atlantic magazine...
"Kennedy’s speechwriters had worked hard preparing a text for his speech, to be delivered in front of city hall. They sought to express solidarity with West Berlin’s plight without offending the Soviets, but striking that balance proved impossible. JFK was disappointed in the draft he was given. The American commandant in Berlin called the text “terrible” and the president agreed.
So he fashioned a new speech on his own. Previously, Kennedy had said that in Roman times, no claim was grander than "I am a citizen of Rome."
So for his Berlin speech, he considered using the German equivalent... "I am a Berliner."
To hear Kennedy deliver one of his most powerful speeches, check out the video:
There are walls, barriers and blockages everywhere we go in life. We limit ourselves, compete with each other over the smallest of things and complain when things don't go our way. What Kennedy did was powerfully bring to the world a message of unity, freedom and cooperation. Legends are those who will look to bring people together, not divide them - and that is the spirit we need in our lives. It's not just about healing the warzones of the world, it's about building relationships with people in our own lives - at work and at home too. After all, the global issues are there to the degree we haven't resolved the local ones.
Learning From Legends...
John F. Kennedy image courtesy of the U.S Embassy New Delhi @ Flickr