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20th Anniversary Of The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, today marks a very important day in the cause of freedom. On this day 20 years ago, the Berlin Wall, which for decades had divided the free people of West Berlin from the captive Germans in the Soviet-controlled East Berlin, finally came down.

In anticipation of this anniversary, we had the rare honor last Tuesday of hearing German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a joint meeting of Congress. She was the first German Chancellor to do so in more than 50 years. Chancellor Merkel spoke about the experience of growing up with millions of others behind the Iron Curtain. She spoke of how it was impossible for herself and anyone else she knew to travel to America. Yet even as a child she knew that tyranny was wrong and that the answer to tyranny could be found across the ocean in America.

Now decades later, Chancellor Merkel's country has gained that freedom, and a little girl who grew up under a repressive regime is the freely elected leader of a united Germany. Here is what Chancellor Merkel had to say about what made that extraordinary journey possible. She said just last week:

Twenty years have passed since we were given this incredible gift of freedom. But there is still nothing that inspires me more, nothing that spurs me on more, nothing that fills me more with positive feelings than the power of freedom.

Chancellor Merkel also spoke very graciously of her gratitude, of Germany's gratitude to America. ``I know, we Germans know,'' she said, ``how much we owe to you, our American friends.'' She recalls President Kennedy's trip to Berlin shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall when he declared his solidarity with the people of Germany with his famous words: ``Ich Bin ein Berliner.'' And she recalled President Reagan's 1987 trip to Berlin when he made a clear and direct appeal to the Soviet Premier for openness with the equally famous words ``Tear down this wall.''

Freedom has its own imperatives. It demanded that the Berlin Wall come down, and 20 years ago it did.

It was a remarkable time. After decades of oppression, which the United States met with a sustained strategy of containment, the world witnessed the relatively peaceful liberation of a continent. But for most of us, the most remarkable moment from those days was the moment we saw one of the most potent symbols of the Communist era, the Berlin Wall, come down, piece by piece. We celebrate this great anniversary with all the free peoples of the world, mindful of those who still yearn for the same freedom Chancellor Merkel dreamed of as a young girl. May they all know the freedom that is the birthright of every man and every woman.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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