German American Heritage Month

September 15-October 15

German Settlers Help to Form American Traditions

President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed October 6, 1983 as German American Heritage Day, and it was officially commemorated four years later in 1987. This day honors the 300th anniversary of the arrival of 13 German families who established the first German settlement on American soil. This community on the northern outskirts of Philadelphia later came to be known as Germantown.

President Reagan's 1987 proclamation read: "The United States has embraced a vast array of German traditions, institutions, and influences... 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."

Some notable Americans of German descent include: Dwight Eisenhower, Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger, Hannah Arendt, Kurt Vonnegut, Sylvia Plath, Fred Astaire and Lou Gehrig.

Web Resources


German American Heritage Day 2011

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