Commentary: Kaiserslautern County Commissioner Ralf Leßmeister

Unambiguously you came to Europe, to Germany, and contributed to the end of that insane and inhumane National Socialism — at that time, more than seventy years ago. For us, your arrival here was the “Sound of Freedom.” They brought peace, freedom and the idea that people essentially want the good. This idea is superior to all the others. And therefore it must be protected and safeguarded. This is what you have stood for day after day here with us for seventy years. With words and with deeds. For this I thank you.

On a stretch of highway near Landstuhl, you set up Landstuhl Air Base on a makeshift airfield starting in 1952 with squadrons of Thunderstreak F84s, those jets that guaranteed our safety for years. A year later, they established the Ramstein Air Force Installation with headquarters and administration. Starting in 1957, the two parts were merged to form Ramstein-Landstuhl Air Base, or as it is simplified to say today in view of the location and positioning: Ramstein Air Base.

This Sound of Freedom moves whole generations. My family has always lived not far from the air base. So we got to see a lot: We listened to the jets on base and jazz on AFN Kaiserslautern, we watched movies and played as kids with the kids of the Airmen. We listened to how they talked, what view they have of the world and people. The “American way of life” became tangible for all of us and especially for us children at that time. I can still remember very well the delicious ice cream, the delicious smelling popcorn during the movie showings in the American cinemas, the typical American Chewing gum, first ice hockey and American football experiences and much more – all lasting and impressive memories of my childhood and for many others with friendships that have lasted for decades, up to numerous relationships and marriages.

Even though the planes have become quieter over the years – the Sound of Freedom has not. And never will! On the contrary, we all want and need to carry the Sound of Freedom forward. This idea is worth it: Because every person should be allowed to be free and strive for their personal happiness.

Congratulations for 70 years at Ramstein Air Base and here’s to continued and proven good cooperation!

Ralf Leßmeister, County Commissioner