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A trip to Nieder-Gemünden

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What a beautiful day! In Giessen, the weather is not all that different from Missouri. I have seen rain and sunshine all in one. The landscape is not all that different from here either, with its gentle rolling hillsides, some fields, and some with grapevines. At times I could think I was in Missouri, as we left Giessen this morning.
But the day was special, as we joined Carol Muench, great great granddaughter of Friedrich Muench, co-founder of the Giessen Emigration Society, on her way to Nieder-Gemünden. We were with Simone Jung, from hr-Fernsehen television from Frankfurt. She and crew, Tom,Rico, and Michael were there to capture the day on film. It is etched in my memory forever.

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We visited Muench’s home built in 1560, and discussed the Muench portraits one can find at the Missouri History Museum, which are reproduced, and hang in the church. Pastor Thomas Schill’s sermon shared the history of Muench, and the Society, and the role they played in history, especially Missouri. Two young men did a memorial tribute to Muench and his life. The church is beautiful and has been restored within the last ten years. The congregation has collected funds and donated it to the Missouri History Museum, for restoration of these beautiful portraits.

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Afterwards we completed our day back at the Cultural Hall, where the exhibit is, to a German Kaffeeklatsch! So many came to talk and discuss. We talked about how different, or not so different from the U.S. Germany is today. We built many bridges with the similarities. I think there are as many Germans, who are interested in what became of the members of their families, as there are in the US who are interested in their ancestors history here in Germany. Friedrich Muench would be so happy to see all of this.

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A German emigrant’s comments on July 4th, 1840

Excerpt from Friedrich Muench’s

Fourth of July Speech given in Washington Missouri in 1840

abbreviated and simplified by R. F. Vieth

   In 1840, Washington, Missouri was only one year old when the United States of America was celebrating its 64th birthday. The young city would celebrate the occasion at its’ own Liberty Hall, known for eagle screaming speeches. Friedrich Muench, who had just arrived six years earlier, was honored when a request was made for his comments, as follows:

“We Germans met a hearty welcome from some of you, but at the same time we heard and still hear a loud and passionate cry against us from a party that proudly call themselves “Natives.” Who, then, are properly and solely the natives of the vast territory now in possession of the United States? The red skinned hunters, who by the arms of the whites have been exiled from the country of their birth and driven to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

But, speaking particularly of my countrymen, what makes those “Nativists” cherish so hostile a feeling toward us? We newcomers, far from endangering the happy state of this country, will bring to it our skillful hands, our money, our talents, and our scientific accomplishments. We also bring the sincere desire to promote by any possible means the welfare and independence of this our adopted country.

Perhaps the “Natives” will object that we differ in customs and language. That is a circumstance harder on ourselves than on you! You are the great majority, and your language is, and forever will be, the language of all public transactions. We are eager to acquaint ourselves and our children with your language, but learning a new language is not easily achieved! That we will do, but what we shall never do is discard entirely the sweet language of our mother country, this sacred inheritance from our German forefathers.”

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