Remarks at a Ceremony Commemorating German-American Day

 

October 6, 1988

 

Members of Congress and distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White House on this day of recognition and appreciation of America's German heritage.

 

In 1683 a small group of German families set out on a journey that took them from the Rhine River in Germany to the Schuylkill River outside of Philadelphia. And there they established what became a rock-steady foundation for the 7 million countrymen to follow. Now, over 300 years later, the United States and Germany stand united as partners, allies, and, most importantly, friends. And today German-American bonds of friendship are stronger than ever.

 

One magnificent symbol of the bonds that tie our two great peoples together is the German-American Friendship Garden. This symbol of eternally renewing growth and strength will be dedicated this autumn here in the Capital. In its growth, our own commitments to the well-being of America and Germany shall be cultivated and nurtured.

 

For 40 years, our shared principles of democracy and liberty have nourished and sustained one another. And due in large part [to] the resolve of the Federal Republic of Germany and the commitment of its people to democracy and freedom, our negotiations with the Soviet Union proved successful, and I was able to sign the INF treaty with Chairman Gorbachev.

 

Unfortunately, for Germans, as well as Americans, a horrendous scar continues to mar the hopes and prospects of a united Germany, free of totalitarian shackles. I'm speaking of course about the cruel and unnatural division of Europe and Germany, which is symbolized by the Berlin Wall -- the wall that stands as a gash dividing those who hope and those who despair, and those who are free to do as they may and those who do only what the state will allow.

 

About a year and a half ago, I stood at the Brandenburg Gate and called for the removal of this evil wall. And now, once again, I implore those in the East to remove this stain on human decency. The greatest flowering of moral, spiritual, and economic growth ever witnessed by this universe is being experienced by those who are truly liberated and who are truly free. Release those bonds and some day there will be one united and free Germany. And the United States will be even further enriched by the great German people.

 

So, I thank you all, and God bless you all. And now, I think, maybe we could have a few words from President Vogel of the German Bundesrat.

 

Note: The President spoke at 1:50 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.