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Berlin marks 50th anniversary of JFK's 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech, pledge still resounds

Berlin is celebrating the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's famed "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech — a pledge of support to the divided city on the Cold War's front line that still resonates in a much-changed world.

Kennedy made his speech during a several-hour trip to West Berlin on June 26, 1963 — nearly two years after communist East Germany cut the city in half by building the Berlin Wall and amid concern that America might abandon the Cold War outpost.

Egon Bahr, then an aide to West Berlin's mayor, recalled at a ceremony Wednesday that the Kennedy's "I am a Berliner" declaration received "explosive applause" because it bolstered Berliners' hopes. He said: "They knew instinctively, 'we can feel safe after this sentence.'"