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President Kennedy Gets Raucous Reception in West Berlin

June 26, 1963 - President Kennedy saw the miracle and the tragedy of West Berlin today as the city turned out to greet him and applaud his country. The reception was one of the largest and most emotional Mr. Kennedy has ever received. The West Berliners leaped and screamed along the curbs, waved their handkerchiefs and a variety of flags, threw flowers, and broke through police barriers to run beside Mr. Kennedy’s car. Some succeeded in shaking his hand. Twice he caught bouquets. A hand-painted ungrammatical but heartfelt placard spoke the city’s heart, reading: “John. You our best friend.” Mr. Kennedy toured 35 miles through packed streets. In some blocks along the route, Berliners stood 10 or more deep. At Friedrichstrasse, the Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie he viewed the gray concrete of the Berlin wall and the desolate buildings and streets that lie beyond it in Communist-controlled East Berlin. Mr. Kennedy spoke five times — at Tegel airport on his arrival, at Congress Hall, at the Rudolph Wilde Plaza, at the Free University of Berlin, and to the American community in Berlin. There seemed no doubt that Mr. Kennedy was moved by the greeting of the West Berliners. He spoke with a passion he has seldom displayed.


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