From Spiegel: And that is why for me today is, first of all, the time to say thank you.

I thank the American and Allied pilots who heard and heeded the desperate call of Berlin’s mayor Ernst Reuter as he said “People of the world, … look upon this city.”

For months, these pilots delivered food by airlift and saved Berlin from starvation. Many of these soldiers risked their lives doing this. Dozens lost their lives. We will remember and honor them forever.

I thank the 16 million Americans who have been stationed in Germany over the past decades. Without their support as soldiers, diplomats and generally as facilitators it never would have been possible to overcome the division of Europe. We are happy to have American soldiers in Germany, today and in the future. They are ambassadors of their country in our country, just as many Americans with German roots today act as ambassadors of my country here…

Because what brings Europeans and Americans together and keeps them together is not just a shared history. What brings and keeps Europeans and Americans together are not just shared interests and the common global challenges that all regions of the world face. That alone would not be sufficient to explain the very special partnership between Europe and America and make it last. It is more than that. That which brings Europeans and Americans closer together and keeps them close is a common basis of shared values. It is a common idea of the individual and his inviolable dignity. It is a common understanding of freedom in responsibility. This is what we stand for in the unique transatlantic partnership and in the community of shared values that is NATO. This is what fills “Partnership in Leadership” with life, ladies and gentlemen.

Excerpt from speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the U.S. Congress. (photo: AP)