From SHAPE: Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, accepted a Freedom Award on behalf of NATO troops during a gala banquet of the Atlantic Council in Berlin November 8, the day before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

From the Bridge: I was truly humbled by the privilege of accepting this award on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians, past and present, upon whose shoulders rest the pillars of the trans-Atlantic bridge.

This is THEIR award, and I accepted it for them with pride for what they have done for the trans-Atlantic community over the past six decades and what they do today across the broad geographic stretch of NATO operations. German–American statesman and General, Carl Shurz, once remarked that “If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors.”

For 60 years, the NATO Alliance has endeavored to preserve the freedoms of its member nations and to encourage the spread of freedom to its neighbors.

For the long decades of the Cold War, the men and women of NATO stood watch. They manned the lines. They flew and sailed on distant patrol. They protected us all. And their steady determination and dedication to what is best in us all – freedom, liberty, democracy, rule of law – in the end helped bring down this wall.

Excerpt from official blog of Adm. James Stavridis, Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. (photo: SHAPE)