Ties of Friendship

By Donna Lippert on Email

What do the years 1683 to 1983 mean to you? October 6th, 2011 is the 328th anniversary of which thirteen families from Krefeld, thirty-three people all together of Mennonite and Quaker decent, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after a long sea voyage. Under the leadership of Franz Daniel Pastorius, a legal scholar born at Sommerhausen near Wurzburg , they settled six miles north of the city and founded Germantown, which was the first permanent settlement in the New World of immigrants from Germany.

Then, in the years to follow, many immigrants flocked to the United States of America to find a better home and life for themselves and their families.

Each year on October 6th, Germans and Americans across the USA (and some Canadians) celebrate this special day, which provides an occasion to turn your attention towards the past and to recall the founding of Germantown. A study by the United States Census Bureau in 1979, stated that more Americans can trace their ancestry to Germany than to any other country.

Immigrants were welcomed into the American pioneer society since labor power was needed in large quantities. This was during the time that the American Society would be inundated by foreigners who would be difficult to integrate. The Americans felt there would be problems accepting the immigrants into their society and work force, but in the years to follow they were proved wrong.

The human ties between both the Germans and Americans, never the less, remained tightly knit. This was because people of both sides did not forget each other and they shared the fate of each other’s society thru kinship, friendship and sympathy across the oceans for years to come.

Here’s an excerpt from President Barack Obama’s 2009 German-American Day proclamation:

Comprising the Nation’s largest ancestry group, German Americans have contributed to our collective identity since the first settlements were founded in the 17th century. Essential to the growth of America, these farmers, soldiers, entrepreneurs, and patriots gave their strength, determination, and in some circumstances, their lives, so we all may experience a brighter tomorrow. It is in this spirit that German Americans continue to enrich our national character, sharing their proud heritage with new generations from every background. Today, we celebrate German Americans for their remarkable role in our Nation’s development.

Barack Obama’s 2009 proclamation went on to point out that the German-Americans continue to be active participants in our Nation’s history:

America is a stronger Nation because of those families who have established longstanding roots in our country, as well as by those who have recently emigrated from abroad. German immigrants, inhabiting every major city, have given much of themselves throughout our history, selflessly expanding the reach of the American Dream. On this day, we celebrate and honor the past, present, and future contributions of German Americans to the rich and textured story of America.

Nowadays, German-American Day is a widely celebrated holiday accompanied by Steuben Parades, concerts, exhibitions, Oktoberfests, and other special events. It is fitting that we set aside time to remember and celebrate how much German Americans have done to enrich our culture, enhance our development, and strengthen our democracy.

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Donna Lippert