I was pleased with the trust the HNC board placed in me when they elected me as chairman in February 2013. With pleasure I continued the work of Dr. Michael Dietzsch who had the position for 10 years and who was substantially involved in founding the association.
I was born in Bitburg in a time when the coexistence between Germans and Americans in this region was already a normality – contrary to the childhood of my predecessor who learned to appreciate the help and support of the American partners during the post-war years. Luckily, my generation grew up in peaceful times and without lacking anything, surely having different personal experience than earlier generations. Nevertheless, and perhaps for this very reason we should never forget the origin of the regional presence in the Federal Republic of Germany.
While the general conditions have changed since founding the HNC, our objectives have not lost their importance. Through our work we aim to emphasize the presence of the American Armed Forces in our region as an economic factor and to represent a central point in the German-American co-existence in their second home.
We start out small - with our youngsters that still got to school: The student exchange between the St. Willibrord Gymnasium and Bitburg High School offers both parties advantages and creates friendship. The Special Children's Day, a games festival with the kids from St. Martin School Bitburg, the integrative children day care by the Lebenshilfe Bitburg and the Air Base Spangdahlem build bridges. Especially in view of the budget restrictions, the financial support by the HNC for activities supporting the German-American friendship gains importance.
An Information Desk has been established in the former officer's club on Spangdahlem Air Base. There, volunteers of the Host Nation Council support members of the Armed Forces and their families in everyday problems and inform them about current cultural, sports and leisure activities in the region and member communities.
Meanwhile we are proud to have more than 230 members which are composed of communities, companies and private individuals. Our combined efforts were honored in a special way by the United States Air Force with the Medal of Distinction, the highest award that may be granted to civilians. Therewith it was confirmed that we preserve the interest of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the Air Base Spangdahlem professionally and competently.
With this in mind, I would like to continue our work and would be especially pleased to welcome new members who will actively provide support to the German-American friendship in the sense of the HNC.