German-American Day

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Although the first German families from the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation arrived in October 1608 in Jamestown (James Fort), it was the founding of Germantown (Pennsylvania German: Deitscheschteddel) in 1683 (an independent borough, absorbed into Philadelphia in 1854), which is considered the begin of the triumphant march of pioneer Germans in North America.

German-American Day (German: Deutsch-Amerikanischer Tag) is a holiday in the United States, observed annually on 6 October. The celebrations also include German-speaking Austrians and Swiss.


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The holiday, which celebrates German American heritage, commemorates the date in 1683 when 13 German (Palatine, Quaker, and Mennonite) families from Krefeld near the Rhine landed in Philadelphia. These families subsequently founded Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first German settlement in the original thirteen American colonies.[1] Germantown has played a significant role in American history; it was the birthplace of the American antislavery movement, the site of a Revolutionary War battle, the temporary residence of George Washington, the location of the first bank of the United States, and the residence of many notable politicians, scholars, artists, and social activists.

Originally celebrated in the nineteenth century, German-American Day died out in World War I as a result of the anti-German sentiment that prevailed at the time. The holiday was revived in 1983. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed 6 October as German-American Day to celebrate and honor the 300th anniversary of German American immigration and culture to the United States.[2] On 6 August 1987, Congress approved S.J. Resolution 108, designating 6 October 1987, as German-American Day. It became Public Law 100-104 when President Reagan signed it on 18 August. A proclamation (#5719) to this effect was issued 2 October 1987 by President Reagan in a formal ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, at which time the President called on Americans to observe the Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.



Proclamation 5719 from 2 October 1987:

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
„More Americans trace their heritage back to German ancestry than to any other nationality. More than seven million Germans have come to our shores through the years, and today some 60 million Americans—one in four—are of German descent. Few people have blended so completely into the multicultural tapestry of American society and yet have made such singular economic, political, social, scientific, and cultural contributions to the growth and success of these United States as have Americans of German extraction.
The United States has embraced a vast array of German traditions, institutions, and influences. Many of these have become so accepted as parts of our way of life that their ethnic origin has been obscured. For instance, Christmas trees and Broadway musicals are familiar features of American society. Our kindergartens, graduate schools, the social security system, and labor unions are all based on models derived from Germany.
German teachers, musicians, and enthusiastic amateurs have left an indelible imprint on classical Music, hymns, choral singing, and marching bands in our country. In architecture and design, German contributions include the modern suspension bridge, Bauhaus, and Jugendstil. German-American scientists have helped make the United States the world's pioneer in research and technology. The American work ethic, a major factor in the rapid rise of the United States to preeminence in agriculture and industry, owes much to German-Americans' commitment to excellence.
For more than 3 centuries, Germans have helped build, invigorate, and strengthen this country. But the United States has given as well as received. Just a generation ago, America conceived of and swiftly implemented the Marshall Plan, which helped the new German democracy rise from the rubble of war to become a beacon of democracy in Central Europe. The Berlin Airlift demonstrated the American commitment to the defense of freedom when, still recovering from war, Berlin was threatened by strangulation from the Soviets.
Today, the Federal Republic of Germany is a bulwark of democracy in the heart of a divided Europe. Germans and Americans are rightfully proud of our common values as well as our shared heritage. For more than 3 decades the German-American partnership has been a linchpin in the Western Alliance. Thanks to it, a whole generation of Americans and Europeans has grown up free to enjoy the fruits of liberty.
Our histories are thus intertwined. We now contribute to each other's trade, enjoy each other's cultures, and learn from each other's experiences. The German-American Friendship Garden, which will be dedicated in the District of Columbia in the near future, is symbolic of the close and amicable relations between West Germany and the United States.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-104, has designated October 6, 1987, the 304th anniversary of the arrival of the first German immigrants in Philadelphia, as "German-American Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of that day.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, October 6, 1987, as German-American Day. I urge all Americans to learn more about the contributions of German immigrants to the life and culture of the United States and to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 2nd day of Oct., in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eightyseven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twelfth.“


Proklamation by president Bill Clinton on German-American Day, 6 October 1995:

„Since the earliest days of the settlement of North America, immigrants from Germany have enriched our nation with their industry, culture, and participation in public life. Over a quarter of all Americans can trace their ancestry back to German roots, but more important than numbers are the motives that led so many Germans to make a new beginning across the Atlantic. America's unparalleled freedoms and opportunities drew the first German immigrants to our shores and have long inspired the tremendous contributions that German Americans have made to our heritage.
In 1681, William Penn invited German Pietists from the Rhine valley to settle in the Quaker colony he had founded, and these Germans were among the first of many who would immigrate to America in search of religious freedom. This nation also welcomed Germans in search of civic liberty, and their idealism strengthened what was best in their adopted country. As publisher of the New York Weekly Journal in the 1700s, Johann Peter Zenger became one of the founders of the free press. Carl Schurz, a political dissident and close ally of Abraham Lincoln, served as a Union General during the Civil War, fighting to end the oppression of slavery. And German names figured prominently in the social and labor reform movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the course of 300 years of German emigration to this great land, German Americans have attained prominence in all areas of our national life. Like Baron von Steuben in Revolutionary times and General Eisenhower in World War II, many Americans of German descent have served in our military with honor and distinction. In the sciences, Albert Michelson and Hans Bethe immeasurably increased our understanding of the universe. The painters Albert Bierstadt and modernist Josef Albers have enhanced our artistic traditions, and composers such as Oscar Hammerstein have added their important influences to American music.
Yet, even these many distinguished names cannot begin to summarize all the gifts that German Americans have brought to our nation's history. While parts of the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and Texas still proudly bear the stamp of the large German populations of the last century, it is their widespread assimilation and far-reaching activities that have earned German Americans a distinguished reputation in all regions of the United States and in all walks of life.
Now, therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 6, 1995, as German-American Day. I encourage Americans everywhere to recognize and celebrate the contributions that millions of people of German ancestry have made to our nation's liberty, democracy, and prosperity.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-five, and of the independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twentieth.“

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