Our Presidents Message – November
As your newly elected president, it is my pleasure and honor to serve you in this capacity, and help provide a voice to the 46 million Americans of German-speaking heritage.
As we tell our visitors at the Museum, everyone in America has an immigration story. What we do through our member clubs and individual members in all 50 states is to encourage one another to be careful stewards of the memory of how our families made their way to America, and what hopes those immigrants had for us.
In my own family, we preserve over 150 years of immigration stories from areas now found in Germany and Switzerland, beginning my Siegerland ancestors who arrived at Fort Germanna, Virginia in 1714 (then the westernmost settlement in colonial British North America) to my Luebbenjans ancestors from Löningen, Oldenburg who settled Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1888.
Migration and acculturation is a controversial subject, both here and in Germany, and will grow in rancor over the coming years. Both Germany and the United States have much to teach one another, but we find that our two countries have to contend with severe distortions of one another through prejudices propagated by the media.
The German-American Heritage Foundation has an important role to play in providing a perspective of 400 years of German-speaking immigration to America to people of goodwill who want our country to be understood by German-speakers everywhere. We are inspired by our heritage to cultivate for the future. We want to welcome German-speakers to America for travel, study, business, and investment; likewise, we want to encourage Americans of every background and walk of life to explore German-speaking Europe, and learn firsthand about our friends on the other side of the Atlantic.
As German-Americans know, our families came to a country that was not always welcoming, but it was a free country where hard work and fair dealing would be rewarded. As we succeeded, German-Americans were at the forefront of extending the blessings of liberty to others, living out the conviction to which President Kennedy years later gave voice in Berlin that “freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.” As Americans, we celebrate the shared journey of our fellow German-Americans, as well as the blessings of liberty that we have extended to the people living in our ancestral lands.
Help the German-American Heritage Foundation succeed in its mission.
J. Marc Wheat