President Clinton, minutes after casing the Berlin Brigade colors and a few hours after passing through the Brandenburg Gate into a side of Berlin made free by that brigade, said to all the soldiers and airmen who ever served in Berlin: "America salutes you; mission accomplished." Clinton, who began July 12 by jogging near the Tiergarten with seven Berlin soldiers, ended the 49 year life of the brigade early that evening in an honors ceremony at a bunting bedecked 4th of July Platz. He also presented the unit a superior service award in the ceremony witnessed by 1,000 assembled soldiers, stands teeming with dignitaries and other well-wishers, and by a live television audience estimated at tens of thousands.
Col. Jimmy Banks and Command Sgt. Maj. James Toney, the Berlin Brigade's top officer and non-commissioned officer, case the brigade colors as President Bill Clinton, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, USAREUR Commander-in-Cheif Gen David Maddox and U.S. Army Berlin Commander Maj. Gen. Walter Yates look on.

"From Checkpoint Charlie to Doughboy City to Tempelhof Airport and beyond, more than 100,000 men and women have served in Berlin," the president said. "More than anyone, they showed the patience it took to win the Cold War. More than anyone, they knew the dangers of a world on edge. They would have been the first casualties in the worlds final war, yet they never flinched. In the long struggle to free Berlin, no one ever knew for sure when the day of liberty would come, not when Harry Truman raised the flag in 1945, or when the hateful Wall went up in 1961. But in all those years, the defenders of Berlin never gave up. You stood your ground; you kept watch; you fortified an island of hope." Clinton concluded: "Now we go forward to defend freedom and, strengthened by your devotion, we work for the day when we can say everywhere in the world what you made possible for us to say here today in Berlin--mission accomplished.
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, citing the reunification of his nation and the freedom that now exists throughout Berlin, called July 12 "A fantastic day for Germany and America." He said that the four decades of teamwork resulted in the accomplishment of long sought dreams. "You, the soldiers of the Berlin Brigade, gave protection and generous assistance to the free part of this city and the Federal Republic of Germany during the period of the East-West tension. We, the people of this city and all Germans, owe you our thanks for this." Clinton's July 11-12 visit to Berlin marked the first visit by a sitting president since the famous 1987 visit by President Reagan where he admonished the Soviets to "tear down this Wall." The 47 year old chief executive became the first U.S. President ever to stay overnight in Berlin. After he and Chancellor Kohl walked from the Reichtag through the Brandenburg Gate, with their wives Hillary and Hannalore, Clinton addressed the audience of 100.000, many carrying American and German flags. Echoing President John F. Kennedy (who said 'Ich bin ein Berliner" in 1963), Clinton spoke several phrases in German. "Amerika, steht an ihrer Seite, jetzt and fur immer", he said, which translates into "America stands by your side, now and forever." Speaking with the gate that symbolizes Berlin as a backdrop, Clinton continued: "Nichts wird uns aufhalten. Alles ist moglich. Berlin ist Frei." ("Nothing can stop us. Everything is possible. Berlin is free.") After his speech, Clinton visited the oldest synagogue in berlin, at Orianenburger Strasse, then signed the Golden Book in the Wappensaal of the Red (Roten) Rathaus. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was commencement speaker at the John F. Kennedy School where 66 students graduated, many of them military family members. She admonished the students "not to accept hatred, indifference and aggression" but to emulate JFK, who appealed to the higher motives in people. At McNair, President Clinton shook the hands of scores of soldiers at a 15 minute reception. He selected Berlin's closure as worth a special trip because like many the world over, he recognized that this was no ordinary closure, because the brigade was no ordinary unit.
The Presidential honors Ceremony, held under penetratingly sunny skies with a temperature averaging 86, was the final U.S. forces event. On September 8, at the Brandenburg Gate, there will be a final Allied departure ceremony, officially ending the American, French, and British military presence here after 49 years. In his speech, Maj. Gen. Walter Yates, commander of U.S. Army Berlin, quoted the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as saying "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy." By that yardstick, the men and women of Berlin and the three generations of Americans who together met all challenges are all winners, the general remarked. Gen. David Maddox, commander of the U.S. Army Europe praised "a relationship where the strongest of bonds have been formed by people living together, supporting each other first in great adversity and finally, in great joy." Maddox added: "The colors that we have just honored and furled have flown against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall; they have been planted in the rocky hills of Turkey and the desert plains of northern Iraq; they have been carried to the mountains of Macedonia and now they are finally going home."

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