German American Day

German-American Day is a National holiday in the U.S. observed annually on October 6 each year,   which celebrates our German-American heritage. This day commemorates the date in 1683 when 13 German families from Krefeld near the Rhine, landed in Philadelphia.  Those families subsequently founded Germantown, Pennsylvania, the first German settlement and organized the 1st petition in the colonies to abolish slavery in 1688. Originally just “German Day”, the holiday was celebrated for the first time in Philadelphia in 1883, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the settlers from Krefeld; and similar celebrations developed across the country.The custom died out during World War due to the anti-German hysteria that prevailed at the time.  The custom was revived in 1983, when President Reagan proclaimed October 6 as German-American Day (See below) to celebrate and honor the 300th anniversary of German-American immigration and culture to the United States.On August 6, 1987, Congress approved S.J. Resolution 108, designating October 6, 1987, as German-American Day. It became Public Law 100-104 when President Reagan signed it on August 18. A proclamation (#5719) to this effect was issued October 2, 1987, by President Reagan in a formal ceremonies calling on Americans to observe the Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

In St. Louis, in 1983, a group of all St. Louis regional German-American Vereins, societies, groups, and such; established itself as the German-American Committee, to continue to preserve and perpetuate the German customs, traditions and language of this region. It currently consists of the Presidents or a designated representative of  German-American organizations in our region, and celebrates German American Day on the first Saturday of October every year. For more information about this event see https://germanamericancommittee.org/2016/07/12/german-american-day/

“Over a quarter of 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… German-Americans have attained prominence in all areas of our national life… 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.” President Clinton, 1995

 

Link to a Teachers Guide to teaching German-American Day

Tricentennial Anniversary Year of German Settlement in America
By the President of the United States of America
January 20, 1983

A Proclamation

On October 6, 1683, a group of thirteen Mennonite families, coming from the city of Krefeld, now in the Federal Republic of Germany, founded Germantown, Pennsylvania, today a suburb of Philadelphia. Since then, more than seven million German immigrants have entered the United States and made extraordinary human, economic, political, social, and cultural contributions to the growth and success of our great country.

Today there are more than sixty million Americans of German descent, a number about equal to the total population of the Federal Republic of Germany. More Americans claim German ancestry than any other nationality.

During my address to the Bundestag in Bonn in June of last year, I spoke of the importance which the United States attaches to the Tricentennial year of 1983 commemorating German settlement in America. Despite the legacy of two world wars which found us on opposing sides, West Germany and the United States have forged an exceptionally close relationship during the past three decades. The success of the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, and the ensuing NATO partnership have led to a recognition of our common democratic ideals and joint interest in Western economic and political strength.

Throughout 1983 there will be numerous activities and observances to celebrate the Tricentennial. President Karl Carstens has accepted my invitation to attend the culminating event in Philadelphia next October.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 260, has designated 1983 as the “Tricentennial Anniversary Year of German Settlement in America” and has authorized and requested the President to issue a Proclamation in observance of that year. By the same Resolution, the Congress established the Presidential Commission for the German-American Tricentennial to plan,encourage, develop, and coordinate the commemoration of this historic event.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the year commencing on January 1, 1983, as the Tricentennial Anniversary Year of German Settlement in America, and urge all Americans to observe the year with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 20th day of Jan., in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventh.

Ronald Reagan

(Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 10:36 a.m., January 21, 1983)

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2 thoughts on “German American Day”

  1. Very commendable. I hope you will also include the Danube Schwabians (Donauschwaben) who came to St. Louis during the 1950s and 1960s and established the German Cultural Society.

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