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Steuben Parade is a Witness to History
Committee Members Attend Chancellor Merkel´s Speech to Congress
Not too many foreign leaders have had the honor to address a Joint Session of Congress. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was invited to do so on November 3rd, 2009 and members of the Steuben Parade Committee were on there to witness this historic event.
Steuben Parade General Chairman Lars Halter and Vice Chairman Herb Seeff were invited to attend the Joint Session in the Capitol. Congressman Mike McMahon, who represents the 13th District of New York, and who was a Grand Marshal of the 52nd Annual Steuben Parade this past September 19th, invited his German-American friends to attend. An additional invitation came from Congressman Steve Israel, who represents New York´s 2nd District.
After visiting both congressional offices in Washington, and being greeted by members of the respective staff, Mr. Halter and Mr. Seeff were escorted to the House Chamber Capitol by way of the tunnel, which connects the three House office buildings with the Capitol. Seated in the gallery, the Steuben Parade delegation had a great view of the speech and surrounding protocol.
Once the usual introductions of the Vice President of the United States, and the President´s cabinet and other high ranking officials were done, the German Chancellor was escorted into the Chamber by a "Welcoming Committee" that included Congressman McMahon. Standing at the historic lectern in front of Vice President Joseph Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Mrs. Merkel gave a thoughtful and emotional speech.
Mrs. Merkel talked about the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - an event also highlighted in the recent Steuben Parade of New York. Merkel told the Joint Session of her own upbringing, behind the Iron Curtain, and of her dreams of the West - specifically West Germany and the United States. Guided by her very personal experiences and emotions, the Chancellor thanked the United States for its involvement in ending the Cold War, a historic feat that would have not been possible without the help of American leaders from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.
The Chancellor also reminded the Joint Session of the responsibilities all countries share in the future. Merkel spoke in detail about international cooperation in areas of crisis, as well as a joint and reliable policy to stop climate change.
The speech was interrupted several times by applause and standing ovations on both sides of the aisle.
General von Steuben is depicted in "Surrender of Lord Cornwallis", a painting in the Capitol.
The Baron is visible in the right half of the painting, the third from the left under the American flag.
Photos by Robert Radske