Irish-Americans have St. Patrick’s Day, Mexican-Americans have Cinco de Mayo and Italian- Americans have Columbus Day. Not wanting to be left out, German-Americans have an opportunity to celebrate their German-American heritage.
October 6th marks the 25th anniversary of German-American Day. This day commemorates the landing of 13 families, led by Franz Daniel Pastoruis near Philadelphia, in 1683 and founded German-town, the first German settlement in the “New World.” Although Germans first settled at Jamestown in 1608, it was not until 1683 that a permanent German settlement was established at Germantown.
In the 1980’s the German-American National Congress (DANK), along with the United German-American Committee of the USA (UGAC/VDAK) and the National Steuben Society formed a national umbrella organization called “German-American Joint Action Committee (GAJAC)” for the specific purpose of establishing an annual German-American Day. In 1983 on the occasion of the “Tricentennial Anniversary of German Settlement in America,” Ronald Reagan, at that time President of the United States, declared Oct. 6 as “German-American Day” to honor German immigration and the culture it brought to the United States.
In 1987 Congress enacted Public Law 100-104 designating October 6 as German-American Day. The official proclamation was issued by President Reagan, October 2, 1987 in a Rose Garden Ceremony calling on the American people to observe this day with appropriate celebrations and activities.
Throughout history there have been many contributions to the world and the American culture that have been made by German-American citizens. This is the day to celebrate the achievements of people like Albert Einstein, Marlene Dietrich, Heidi Klum, Wernher Von Braun, and Henry Kissinger, to name a few.
Many German immigrants and German-Americans have helped shape the United States and have changed the face of the world for the better. German-American Day is a time of celebration, of raising awareness, strengthening a sense of identity and pride in the contributions of German-speaking immigrants and their descendants to the building of this nation. The designation “German” is used in a cultural, not in a political sense, thus including the German-speaking Swiss, Alsatians, Austrians, Germans from Eastern Europe, and German Jews.
Ways you can get involved
There are many ways to promote and celebrate German-American Day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Request a proclamation from your governor, mayor or city council declaring October 6th German-American Day in your state or community.
- If you live near Washington, D.C., join the celebration held at the German-American Friendship Garden on October 6th.
- If you live near Chicago, there will be a celebration on October 7th, at St. Benedict church, in Chicago.
- Do a little research on the internet to familiarize yourself with famous people of German-American heritage.
- If your city has a German-American Day parade, go out and support those marching.
- Get a group of people together and watch a German film.
- Tour a museum with German art or a local German heritage center if you have one.
Contact one of your local German-American organizations to see if they have any activities planned for German-American Day. If you do not belong to any organizations and have been wanting to get more involved, this may be your chance to check one out while all celebrating your common heritage.
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