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Why German Day Is Celebrated

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The speech of Mr. Paul G. Suekey at the German-American iay celebration in Manchester last week, was so highly spoken of that leading Germán citizen and scholar Df this city has kindly prepared the Eollowing translation of it for our columns: We have again met from all parts of Washtenaw to celébrate a festival commemorative of the day - Oct. 6, 1683,- when Germans first landed in greater numbers on the hospitable shores of our new fatherland. They were poor weavers from the Palatinate and Rhine regions, seeking, not only, a bettering of their social conditions, but also religious freedom the right to live and die accordingto their religious convictions. The instigato'-s of these Germán Day celebrations are frequently assailed with the charge that it is ridiculous to celébrate with such pomp and festivity the anniversary of the day on which a few poor weaver families set foot on these shores. Notwithstanding the sneers of a few, it is an historical fact that those who first opened that mighty stream of emigration from Germany were poor people, ready and desirous to labor for a new life of political and religious freedom; and the labor of these first pioneers and that of their followers has contributed their full share of making our great country what it is this present day. Their strong self-reliance and their firm belief in right and liberty were prime factors in our American civilization processes, converting the hunting grounds of savages into the homes of civilized men. These, myfriends, are some of the factors moving us to celébrate festively the day on which the Germán element first entered American history. And we, who'like our forefathers, are living in old Washtenow, look with j ustjpride on the followers of the poor weavers of 1683; for who can deny that this country does not also owe to a great extenther wealth and splendor to the emigration from Germany. At all times Germans have been amongst the most honored in this country. In this country a custom has been inaugurated amongsc the foreign born and descendants of these to celébrate anually a festival commemorative of the chief epoch of their ancestral country. When the German or German-American day was celebrated for the first time, Nativists and other hostiles made the charge against us German-Americans of being unpatriotic to America in our celebration. We celébrate in clear distinction to all other foreign born citizens, a festival commemorative of an epoch in American history written in humble modesty on her pages, yet distinctively American in every respect. And what emotions do not overeóme a German-American on comparing his standing of the present day, one of 16,000,000 citizens, with the standing of his ancestors under Pastorius in 1683, who, fleeing from the oppression and misery occasioned by the 30-year's war, were gladly satisfied with whatever morsels the mercenary English allowed them. This is not the place, nor would :ime permit, to recount here the indiidual labors of the many illustrious Serman-Americans gracing the anlals of our history. Two events, lowever, may be briefly mentioned. s in last year's address I referred to the fact that it was a Germán, Pastorius, who rendered the first legal protest against slavery in 1688, 50 I wish to recall this day the fact that it was also a Germán, Governor Leisier of New York, who not only first formulated the thought now so frequently expressed, of a unión of this country with Canada, but actually sought to accomplish it by force of arms. Whenthe French invaded New York in 1690, plundering and burning everywhere in their march, Leisier, having united into organized defense the divided American colonies and driven the invaders back, uttered these memorable words, "If we allow this opportunity to pass without conquering the French in Canada and declaring an English province, our descendants will have reason for cursing our short-sightedness." His plan, however, failed and he died the first martyr for the cause of America as against England. Our American history is resplendent with deeds of valor, of patriotism accomplished by German-Americans for the honor of their new fatherland. Wherever the hberty and freedom of the country was endangered, citizens of our race were amongst the first to do battle, whether in open field, platform, pulpit, or in the German-American press, which has become an important factor during the last two decades. In speaking of the press may I be permitted to recall the memory of one who as a journalist has done more for the elevation of the Gerraan element in this country than any other living German-American. I refer to Herman Rastor, the German-American patriot, who never rested to wield his pen manfully for liberty, and equality to enable the Germán element to take that position in this country which rightfully belongs to it, in consequence of its culture force for the welfare and progress of this country, and who never hesitated on the platform in eloquent speech to defend the maintenance of the Germán language and good Germán customs. May I thus be permitted to lay a wreath on the freshly closed grave of the greatest German-American of the day! At the grave of this illustrious representative of the German-American press, Dr. Joseph Senner rendered the following glowing tribute: "That Germán -Americans are destined to exercise an advisory if not actually directory influence on the formaiion of the national character of our new fatherland is to-day recognized by all thoughtful citizens. None, however, must be more deeply impressed with the importance of this mission and its significance than we, the laborers of the German-American press, the competent mediators between the Germán and the American spirit. I am far from under-estimating the significance of the pioneer work of the German-American preás, for there we probably find the consciousness of a missionary activity more deeply impressed than in their more potent successors of the present day, in whom the thought seems to obtain more and more that the press is also a mercantile business, one of the many means to make money, a business neither better nor worse than anv other. All honor to the memory of our pioneers. But it was only in the l'ast decades that the German-American press was enabled to strive forcibly towards the fulfillment of her missionary work, for it was first during the last two decades that such a numerical forcé stood behind her as to demand the attention and recognition of the descendants of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic races." And who can deny but that the display of these great masses at the celebrations of the German-American Day has not made a forcible impression on our fellow citizens? We have not only shown our fellow citizens unacquainted with the Germán tongue, our strength, but have also demonstrated that when needed we can be counted. We have shown our friends that notwithstanding our numbers and strength we are .not office hunters. We have shown us in a manner to command the attention of our fellow citizens. Our celebrations are not associated with political purposes. Nevertheless we are patriots. In the procession you have seen an inscription taken from a speech of State Supt. of Schools for Illinois, Raab, which reads thus: "We are all striving towards the one goal to make our country great and respected bef ore the world; we are all patnots." And that we are patriots has been shown on all occasions, that we are not only good farmers, mechanics, mercantile and professional men, but when needed also good soldiers. We belong to the different political parties, not for the sake of office, but from principie, and when danger threatens our country, we show our love to country above party affiliation. With these duties which we have solemnly sworn to fulfil we have also been guaranteed certain rights. And that we are so frequently asserting these rights, has been made a matter of reproach. Unconcerned, however, we have maintained on our straight course fully conscious that we have at all times fulfilled our duties and that we insist on our rights. Among these rights we claim instruction in the Gemían language in our public schools when demanded by a majority of the parents of the district, and further that our racial :oras shall not be abridged by forcé. Conscious that we are an element of :ulture in this country, we deem it idvantageous for the development of Dur fatherland that such habits and :ustoms be maintained which are not conflicting with the law of the and, and are conducive to the happiness and welfare of the nation which is here forming f rom an amalgamation of the civilized races. It has frequently been stated that if all emigrants had abandoned their especially good characteristics (habits) that this country would not be as far advanced in civilization as it is. The Germán element, which clings tenaciously to its traditional customs, forms to a large extent our conservative element, and unquestionably the homogeneous and to so large an extent, healthy growth of the greatest and mightiest republic of the world, can be attributed largely to the conservatism of her German adoptive citizens. That the native and the foreign elements must amalgámate in time is no longer a question, and no one will probably question this. Time, the great equalizer, will attend to this. What we oppose to this union is that it is to be accomplished by forcé, and that patriotic motives are given to these coerceionary measures. We are Armenians and wlsh to remain so, but we wish to undergo the arnalgamation process naturally, not by coercenary measures, to which we are decidedly opposed as patriots, as sons of a free country. We are proud of our descent, of belonging to a race whose poets, thinkers and héroes belong to the greatest in the world's history, but we are "Germans" no longer; we are Americans, legal citizens of this glorious country whose starry banner protects us and which we strive to uphold. Now, my friends, you have all heard and understood why we a ÍJ celebrating here, as else-where, a German-American day. Take the beautiful remembrance of this day back to your homes, bnt take also the feeling along that it is no shame to be of Germán descent; but do not forget that we have selected as bride our new fatherland, America, sworn her loyalty and love, but that we still have the right to think lovingly of our mother, Germania, and honor her in our remembrance. Return to your homes with the happy consciousness that we all celebrated a day on which religious and political differences have not prevented our full measure of enjoyment, and that we still have with us many gallant ones of those old, faithful pioneers of old Washtenaw. May we all be permitted to celébrate the third German-American day equally joyful, although not so young, asin hospitable Manchester.