So what's sad about it? The problem is twofold. First, the only thing that most people remember about that speech was Kennedy's alleged flub-up of saying "Ich bin ein Berliner," supposedly calling himself a "Jelly doughnut" instead of identifying himself with the people of that divided city in standing up against Communism. My friends, according to Snopes, this is a myth. It's not true. People to this day snicker and make jokes about Kennedy's gaffe, and the joke's really on them for falling for an urban legend.
Second, all this discussion about his alleged gaffe distracts from the strength of this speech. Yes, President Kennedy was horrible in the arena of faithfulness to his wife. He--with the complicity of the press--covered up the fact that he was in incredibly ill health, something that should've caused him to step down as President. He was responsible for some other policies which I heartily disagree with. But. . .when it came to standing up against Communism, he was about as stalwart as he could be. He recognized how evil a system it was. He was never mealy-mouthed or wishy-washy on this subject, nor did he have any problems favorably comparing his country with totalitarian states. He gave not one inch to moral equivalence. And for that, he deserves some praise. Oh, how much I yearn for the days when Democrats as a party saw evil as evil, when they had no trouble defending America in both word and deed! Anyway, here's Bill Bennett's posting on the speech. Read and tell me that the most important part was a (mythological) gaffe:
On June 26, 1963, John F. Kennedy became the first president to stand on the west side of the Berlin Wall and denounce totalitarianism. Kennedy called the wall “the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see.” With the words Ich bin ein Berliner (“I am a Berliner”), he assured Europeans of U.S. resolve to stand up for freedom.
There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that Communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. . . .
Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. . . . [The Berlin Wall is] an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together. . . .
Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”