Well good evening — Minister President Kretschmann, Doctor Bohmler, Ambassador Emerson, Ambassador Ischinger, ladies and gentleman - good evening everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak here this evening.
It’s an honor to be part of this historic celebration,
which is really a celebration of German-American friendship and partnership.
I want to open with a number for you to consider—39,125. That is the number of buildings in Stuttgart that were damaged or destroyed during World Waw two.
In fact, this very palace where we are tonight was one of the 39 thousand turned to rubble and ash in the devastation of the war.
In the midst of the ruins, many feared that the city and the country would collapse into Communism, Fascism, anarchy, or starvation.
But underneath the destruction, Secretary Byrnes saw the foundations of a new city and a new country that would harness, as he said, the “great energies and abilities of the German people to the works of peace.”
Well, if anyone ever questions the energy and ability of the German people, let them come to Stuttgart.
If anyone has doubts about what President Kennedy described as the “hope and the determination” of Germany, let them come to Stuttgart.
If anyone wonders whether, as President Reagan said, “freedom leads to prosperity,” let them come to Stuttgart, which few cities can match in productivity and innovation.
And if anyone questions the strength of the German-American partnership, let them come to the only city in the world where the United States has two Geographic Combatant Commands--Lass sie nach Stuttgart kommen.
Secretary Byrnes understood that the well-being of Europe is fundamentally tied to the well-being of Germany.
And he also understood that the well-being of the United States is inextricably linked to that of Europe.
Today, we share common values and heritage.
It is with Europe that we have the world’s largest
trading relationship. With Europe, we have forged the international norms and laws that have enabled a peaceful Europe and world. And with Europe, we have built the greatest Alliance of like-minded Nations in history.
This was not done overnight. No, Secretary Byrnes, along with George Marshall, General Clay and many others had to take the long view. They had to look squarely at the devastation before them and maintain a tempered confidence about what could be done.
As we transition to address new challenges—from a resurgent Russia, to violent extremists, to the impact of mass migration, an issue with which Germany is very familiar with—we must have this same tempered confidence and ability to think long term.
As we do so, we will look to Germany, who is at the forefront of all these issues and who will play a lead role in our strategy going forward.
It is a great privilege for EUCOM, the United States European Command, -- and I will speak for AFRICOM, the Africa Command, as well -- for us to be headquartered here in this country and in this city. I can tell you as an American military officer, Stuttgart is one of the finest assignments we can get anywhere in the world!
Our ability to serve together for a common cause, to train and fight and sweat and bleed and yes even die together—Germans and Americans, side-by-side—is a testament to the power of the ideals that we defend.
Now I started with a number and let me close with one: 36,400. That is the number of active duty EUCOM military members who serve here and call Germany home. On behalf of each and every one of those military members, let me say, thank you.