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German Pioneer day!

Some have asked, "What is Pioneer Day?" Pioneer Day is a celebration in honor of our ancestors, and their customs and heritage, who left a war torn and economically damaged Germany for better pastures here in the USA. 

Following, you will find some explanations regarding Pioneer day. -

The German Pioneer Day celebrates the immigration of Germans to the United States. It began on a ship named Concord in 1683 which took the first group of German emigrants to America.[1] On board of the galleon were 13 Mennonite families from Krefeld with a total of 33 people. The ship is also known as the "German Mayflower". The Concord took sail on July 6, 1683, in Rotterdam under Captain William Jeffries with 57 passengers. The journey took 74 days to reach Philadelphia (Germantown) on October 6, 1683 (which was declared German-American Day in 1983).

Descendants of the earliest German settlers have observed October 6 as German Pioneer Day or German Settlement Day since 1908, commemorating the day on which the first permanent German settlement in America was established at Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1683. But it wasn't until 1987 that October 6 was formally designated German-American Day by President Ronald Reagan.

According to the 2000 census, German Americans are the largest ancestry group in the United States—almost 43 million people reported they were of German ancestry—and their traditions and institutions have had a wide-ranging impact on the American way of life.

This day is often observed by attending programs and events that promote an understanding of the contributions of German immigrants—for example, lectures on German history, art, music, and literature; exhibits featuring German artifacts; performances of German music and hymns; and church services that acknowledge German-American members of the congregation. Ohio observes German-American Heritage Month throughout October, and smaller celebrations are held in more than 2,000 communities across the country (The Spokane German-American Society celebrates this time on November 6th, 2010). In recent years, October 6 has also become a time to celebrate German Unification Day (October 3).

Some additional information regarding Pioneer Day -

In the month of October Americans (and some Canadians) commemorate the Germanic heritage element of American (and Canadian) society. About one in four Americans claims to have German ancestors. German-Americans from Adolph Coors to Albert Einstein have made important contributions to both American and world culture. The legendary Brooklyn Bridge was designed by a German-born engineer. The American rockets to the moon were designed and supervised by another German-American. There were Germans among the Jamestown settlers in 1607 and Germans (Prussians, Austrians, etc.) have continued to migrate to the New World until the present day--most notably during the two migratory waves of the late 1840s and from 1880 to 1889.

Here's an excerpt from President Ronald Reagan's 1987 German-American Day proclamation: "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."

President Reagan's 1987 proclamation went on to point out that the German-American connection has not been only a one-way exchange: "For more than three 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."

The American German-American Day is not the only German-related day in October. Below is a calendar of October observations. On the next page you'll find suggested classroom or individual project activities for learning more about the German contributions to life in the United States and elsewhere.

Oktober - Special Days in October

Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) - October 3
This official German holiday commemorates Germany's reunification in 1990, when East and West Germany once again became one country known as die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (the Federal Republic of Germany). The date reflects the signing of the reunification treaty rather than the actual date of the 1989 opening of the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately, November 9th is also the date of another event in German history, Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, when Jewish synagogues and shops were attacked and store windows of Jewish-owned stores were smashed in 1938. So now October 3 is Germany's national holiday.

German-American Day - October 6
The first German-American Day was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 for the 300th anniversary of the arrival of 13 German families on board a sailing vessel named "Concord" (the "German Mayflower"). The Germans from Krefeld landed in Philadelphia on October 6, 1683 and founded Germantown, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia). In 1987, after a campaign by German-American organizations, Congress made October 6 an official day of commemoration and President Reagan signed the proclamation quoted above. - Also see: Famous German-Americans.

German Pioneers Day (Ontario, Canada) - Day after Canadian Thanksgiving (October)
A law passed by the Ontario provincial Legislative Assembly in 2000 proclaimed the annual celebration of the German contributions to Canada on the day after Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October). The celebration, held in connection with Kitchener's annual Oktoberfest, actually includes Austrian and other Germanic ethnic groups.

Some additional links to check out -
Tricentennial Anniversary Year of German Settlement in America By the President of the United States of America
January 20, 1983

The Tricentennial Foundation -
German American Community Service - Information affecting the German American Community

German-American History and Heritage

German-American Day on Wikipedia - this has links to the proclamations that led up to the national day!





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