Today is the 4th of July, and we are celebrating it this evening with the Carl Schurz Deutsch-Amerikanischer Club in Bremen, a club in Bremen devoted to improving or advancing relationships between citizens of the United States and citizens of Germany, and also a club that I have been president of for the past seven years (time seems to be flying here sometime). The club was founded right after the second world war in Bremen to improve the relations between the American soldiers who were occupying Bremen at the time and the German citizens of the town. Over the years these two populations got along very well, and there was much mutual accord and respect that developed. The last serious phase of this was about 1991 when a large contingent of American soldiers was sent to the Middle East during the first Persian Gulf War. Their families were left behind in the area around Bremen and Carl Schurz played a major role in helping take care of these families in their time of need. In about 2002, soon after I became President of the organization, the United States Army awarded the club and some of its leading members (before my time) a distinguished service award for all the club had done for American service personnel in its first 50 years of activity.
Today, the soldiers are all gone (there is a contingent of less than 10 soldiers in a logistics unit dealing with shipping in Bremerhaven), and the club is looking for new ways to continue building relationships between America and Germany. We have made several steps in this regard, but there is still a long way to go. I refer you to our new web site which (as it is being upgraded and added onto) is continuously giving more information about our past, present and future activities.
I want to wish all Americans on this special day, wherever you might be in the world, a very special Happy Fourth of July. In particular I am thankful that the American political system has given us this past fall a president who is reaching out to so many parts of society around the world, and who has been endowed with powerful political skills that will help make inroads into some of the most serious problems of the day. I just finished reading a book Ultimatum by Mathew Glass, which portrays the kinds of problems an American president might be having thirty years from now (especially in the issue of Climate Change, and the Relocation of millions of Americans from coastal regions) if we do NOT start effectively solving some of our problems now. A book well worth reading, but for today, enjoy the holiday everyone.