When Rebecca asked me if I would offer a toast to international cooperation at this Anniversary celebration, I was honored to speak. Honored just to be here in this important year, as I think many of us feel today.
When this site was dedicated 50 years ago, no one could have foreseen what this effort would grow into. There would have been some plans, of course, but more than that, there must have been hope--hope that the people who came later would share the dedication to this effort that those standing here decades ago felt.
This was, after all, less than a decade after twelve nations came together to sign a treaty--a treaty that promised that each country would work together to try to do things the right way here on this continent. That Antarctica was bigger than all of our individual differences--bigger than us.
Since then, as we look at the flags of those original signatories, we know there have been bitter disputes between some of us, ultimatums given, promises broken. The countries represented here have at times been bitter enemies. Just think of all the history that has happened in the last 50 years.
But through all of it, one thing has never wavered. We have all of us been committed to protecting this place, to keeping it out of the fray, to rise above, and to continue to be a shining example of international cooperation, actually, in the history of humankind.
We are, all over the world, dedicated to this principle. We are all here a part of it.
And so I ask you to raise your glasses. Find a place in your heart to feel the weight of this toast. To all of the men and women who work here from all over this earth. To Palmer Station; to our own nation's dedication to this program; and to this great continent itself.
Happy birthday Palmer Station.