The Appeal of Conscience Foundation is an organization, founded in 1965, that believes freedom, democracy, and human rights are the fundamental values that give all countries their best hope for peace, security, and shared prosperity.

The foundation recently presented its Appeal of Conscience Award to Dr. Heinrich v. Pierer, president and chief executive officer of Siemens AG, a company based in Germany but with significant operations in the United States, including Siemens Building Technologies, supplying building automation and hvac controls.

In his speech accepting the award in New York shortly after the terrorist attacks, Dr. v. Pierer noted that U.S. efforts on behalf of freedom around the world have not gone unnoticed and are not unappreciated. “The whole world owes America a huge debt of gratitude for the willingness and determination of U.S. citizens to repeatedly risk life and limb to ensure that freedom prevails.”

A War On Humanity

He stated, “What has happened here must be seen as a declaration of war not just on Americans, not just on the victims of over 50 nations, but on humanity itself.”

The terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have affected, and continue to affect, international efforts for peace. Now, with bioterrorism, we are seeing further implementation of weapons of mass destruction. Anthrax and other biological and chemical agents threaten the lives of many thousands of people, wherever the terrorists roam, putting everyone in their path at risk.

Dr. v. Pierer remarked that Germany “is extremely grateful for the role that the United States plays in the world.” Our country’s “unrelenting commitment to freedom, democracy, and justice may well be more evident to German citizens than probably any other folk in the world.

“Twice in the past century — in defeating the Nazi dictatorship to help Germany return to the folds of the free world, and then during the reunification of Germany just over one decade ago — America has been an uncompromising and successful advocate for German freedom.

“I have many strong, personal images of what America has done for my country.

“My earliest memory dates back to my childhood, to a day late in April 1945, when I was four years old. American troops had arrived in our city. My mother told me to stand in our doorway, like the other children in our house, with my hands up, hoping we would touch the hearts of the GI’s entering the house for the first time. We must have done a good job. The first soldier I saw stopped and gave me a piece of chocolate — an unbelievable rarity at that time.

“Such incidents may seem trivial today, but they happened thousands of times in postwar Germany and were indelible for my generation.”

Keeping Berlin Free

He said, “The Americans kept West Berlin alive and free for eleven months during the blockade that began in 1948. In 1963, President Kennedy proclaimed his solidarity with the city. And in 1987, President Reagan stood before the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate and called out, ‘Mr. Gor-bachev, tear down this wall.’

“Just two-and-a-half years later, President Bush worked with enormous skill, leadership, commitment, and resolve to help make this dream come true.”

As Dr. v. Pierer declared, “Words and deeds like these have shaped and cemented German-American relationships over half a century.” They have also demonstrated our commitment to the entire world.

The United States has consistently fought for freedom for all people, not just our own. President George W. Bush has currently assembled an international coalition to bring down terrorism worldwide, with our actions continuing to back our words.

Mazurkiewicz is news and legislation editor. He can be reached at 810-296-9580; 810-296-9581 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 11/19/2001