Monday, October 6, 2008

"America cultivates the best Germany brought forth"

"Few people have blended so completely into the multicultural tapestry of American society and yet have made such singular economic, political, social, scientific, and cultural contributions to the growth and success of these United States as have Americans of German extraction."
-President Ronald Reagan, 1987

If you have German blood running through your veins, then you have a lot to be proud of on this 6th day of October because it is German-American Day in the U.S. The holiday was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 in honor of the 300th anniversary of German American immigration and culture to the United States.

German-American Day commemorates the date of Oct. 6, 1683 when 13 German families from Krefeld near the Rhine landed in Philadelphia. They went on to found Germantown, PA, the first German settlement in the original thirteen American colonies.

The origins of this day of commemoration goes back to the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly German-American Day faded away during World War I due to anti-German sentiment. Thanks to President Reagan it has enjoyed a revival.

On August 6, 1987 that Congress finally approved the Resolution and President Reagan was able to sign it on August 18. Proclamation #5719 was then issued on Oct. 2 in a formal White House Rose Garden ceremony. The President called upon all Americans to observe the Day with the appropriate ceremonies and activities.

My German ancestors arrivals span the centuries. My most recent German ancestors landed on November 22, 1910. Great Grandfather Gustav Sporowski had made the journey in September in hopes of getting settled and finding employment. But by November Great Grandmother Louise could wait no longer, recently discovering she was expecting their second child.

As the story goes, she sold the last of their possessions, sewed their remaining money and gold into her petticoats and took her four-year-old daughter Martha by the hand and boarded the S. S. Kroonland in Antwerp, Belgium. Louise later recalled meeting Gus at the Ellis Island “kissing post” with a kiss and her happy news.

When I think back at the hesitation I felt as a young mom just thinking about taking my 4 year old to the grocery store, I truly stand in awe of the woman who brought her 4 year old across an ocean!

(Photo: Gus is holding the dog with little Martha standing behind him, while he and his chums prime the keg in Gillespie, Illinois.)

“America cultivates the best Germany brought forth” Benjamin Franklin

1 comment:

Judith Richards Shubert said...

What a wonderful photo and reminder of our German ancestors. My husband's ancestors are from Austria and Holland, but a lot of his family just lump them together and say German ancestors. The Germans were a hardy, determined people. No, I can't imagine crossing an ocean with a 4-year old.

Thanks so much for following my blog!