Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Ich bin ein Berliner!

Today Berlin celebrates the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s iconic “Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, in which he offered American solidarity to the citizens of West Germany nearly two years after communist East Germany divided the city in two by building the Berlin Wall.


“Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was ‘civis Romanus sum.’ Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,’” Kennedy famously stated before a crowd of about 1.1 million Berliners who came out to see him speak in front of the Schöneberg Rathaus.

 

Unlike most presidential speeches which were highly choreographed, JFK fed off of the crowd’s energy on this day in 1963, improvising boldly to declare “I am a Berliner.” In doing so he connected with the exuberant crowd, conveyed his respect for the resiliant city, and delivered one of the most famous presidential speeches in U.S. history.


To watch his speech and read the remarks in full, click here.