Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pittsburgh Attorney David Murdoch Exemplifies Citizen Diplomacy in Receiving Top German Honor for Improving Transatlantic Relations

Pittsburgh attorney David A. Murdoch, Esq., on Monday received the Cross of the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz), the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to an individual, whether German or foreign.

Murdoch, a partner at K&L Gates, chairman of the board of directors of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and Honorary Consul for Germany in Pittsburgh since 2002, received the honor at a luncheon in Pittsburgh for his work in strengthening German-American relations from Dr. Horst Freitag, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York.

"If you have one great take-away from this event, let it be that you witnessed and learned how private citizens make a difference in international and intercultural matters without becoming professional diplomats or government employees," Murdoch told the audience of several hundred people. "Engagement and service in community activities and organizations, which have been so essential in my life, will become even more important in this century."

Murdoch said the region's great strengths, which attracted the world's attention during last September's G-20 Summit, will continue to lead to economic renewal and global growth.

"In Western Pennsylvania, I see a great synergy working together among education, business and nonprofit organizations," he said. "Education, business and the non-profits are the brains, brawn and heart of our next regional Renaissance."

Recalling his life-changing visit to Germany in the weeks after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, Murdoch said, "Berliners were shocked that the East German government was building a Wall to restrain their own citizens from leaving. As a 19-year-old, I learned, in a dramatic way, the importance of our freedoms of speech, travel and assembly -- all of which were being denied to East Berliners and East Germans."

The event was sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Eric M. Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany.

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