On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall came down in Berlin and both a country and a continent came together. After thousands of East Berliners flooded through checkpoints into West Berlin, border restrictions dissolved across Eastern Bloc countries. The Iron Curtain that divided Europe for decades finally fell, ushering in a new era of freedom and cooperation. On this anniversary, we are reminded that no challenge is too great for a world united in common purpose.
After the Berlin Wall fell, oppressive regimes across the globe gave way. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps closed and democracy’s doors were unlocked for millions who had known only tyranny. Markets opened too, spreading information and technology that empowered once-insolvent nations to achieve prosperity. Twenty years later, our world is more interconnected than at any time in human history, giving rise to new opportunities for shared progress.
Today, the barriers that challenge our world are not walls of cement and iron, but ones of fear, irresponsibility, and indifference. History reminds us that such walls can be torn down, but where they still exist we must work with all nations to strengthen civil societies, support democratic institutions and the rule of law, and promote free and fair electoral processes. Upholding these principles into the 21st century will require America’s enduring commitment and steady leadership.