Pennsylvania German Day Is June 28th

Posted: June, 2013 | N. Daniel Schwalm, President - Pennsylvania German Society

In 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial, Legislative Act 114 designated June 28 as Pennsylvania German Day in Pennsylvania. Over the years, awareness of the act faded. In 2012, after Rev. Willis W. Heckler, pastor emeritus of Zion Union Church, Maxatawny, Berks County, Pennsylvania, found an article in Pennsylvania Folklife about the original act, he contacted Senator Judy Schwank of Ruscombmanor Township, Berks County, who was instrumental in redesignating June 28. With the help of Governor Thomas Corbett, Pennsylvania German Day was renewed in 2012. The date corresponds closely to the opening of the annual Kutztown Folk Festival. By honoring Pennsylvania Germans with a designated day, the Commonwealth recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of these people to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Celebrate Pennsylvania German Day on June 28, 2013.

On June 14, Americans celebrate Flag Day. The Pennsylvania German Flag was designed in 1983 to help commemorate the 300TH anniversary of the arrival of the first Germans in America. Since a flag is an object of symbolism and serves as a reminder of the deeds, accomplishments, & contributions of a nation by its people, the Pennsylvania German flag represents the accomplishments and contributions of the Pennsylvania Germans who played a loyal and honorable role in the development of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America.

The Pennsylvania German flag uses the colors of red, white, and blue to remind one that, in spite of our ethnic backgrounds, we are, first & foremost, Americans. The center of the flag depicts the sailing ship Concord and commemorates the journey from Krefeld to Germanton in 1683, the start of a great migration of German speaking people in search of greater religious freedom and better social and economic conditions. The ship is depicted inside a keystone which is the symbol of Pennsylvania, the principal and permanent settlement for the majority of the migrants.

The dialect expression, “Liewer Gott im Himmel drin; Loss uns Deitsche was mir sin,” means “Dear God in Heaven; Leave us Germans what we are.” This statement implies “Let us keep our traditional ways.” This dialect expression also symbolizes the main instrument of communication used by the Pennsylvania Germans in their everyday social and economic associations.

The upper left corner of the flag shows a church, indicative of the devoutness of the Pennsylvania Germans, whose religious convictions were a strong motivating force in their daily lives.
The lower left corner of the flag shows a plow which symbolizes probably the most predominant of Pennsylvania German professions, the farmer. The plow further symbolizes the Pennsylvania German farm as a source of food for state and nation.

The upper right corner of the flag shows a heart & tulip and represents the great skills and contributions of the Pennsylvania Germans in the field of arts and crafts.

Finally the lower right corner shows the Conestoga wagon, which symbolizes the Pennsylvania Germans’ contributions to the need for transportation. The “Ship of Inland Commerce,” as it became known, played a very important role in the Revolutionary War under the guidance of Pennsylvania German teamsters. It also played a tremendous role in the westward expansion of our nation.

During the month of June, take time to think about your Pennsylvania German ancestors and consider how they contributed to the Commonwealth and this great nation of ours, the United States of America.