January 1, 2000. Not just a new century, but a new millennium. Spotless, for the briefest moment, though far from empty. Arriving so brimful of promise and hope. “What will it be like?” we wondered, staring almost child-like at the clock as it approached the new era. A brand-new, unopened, ready-to-use millennium! And this time, with all we’d learned over past millennia, we would get things right.
It is one of the founding myths of “German Americana” that the first migrants from German-speaking territories arrived on October 6, 1683, on North American soil. Unsurprisingly, German Americans have always sought to celebrate this particular date in order to promote and to secure German American traditions and interests. Such celebrations, formerly often called “German Day,” flourished during the 19th century and ceased after the world wars. After the 1983 tricentennial, German American stakeholders were able to revive and to continue the celebrations: On August 18, 1987, Congress approved a joint resolution to designate October 6, 1987, as German-American Day.
Since that time, most American presidents have issued annual proclamations to celebrate the achievements and contributions of German Americans to our Nation with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs. Also, German American societies have taken on the ‘task’ and included annual German-American Day celebrations into their calendars, often in combination with the famous Oktoberfest.
I know the monsters that lurk in the recesses of the mind and in
the dark corners of the heart. I know, because I deal with my own demons
of what was and what might have been. I’ve heard those voices calling in the night.
I understand, because I poked my head through that door and looked around a bit.
And I gotta say, it’s not a terribly scary place. I wasn’t frightened there,
in that room where death is. I understand why people go there.
And I understand why people chose to stay there.
Ira Wagler, Broken Roads, p. 187-188
Growing Up Amish, Ira Wagler’s New York Times bestseller has sold some 185,000 copies since it first appeared in 2011. A writer whose first book makes that list has much to live up to. Some writers never make it past the first book, while others end up wishing they had only written one. And if I am honest, I have to admit that I was somewhat concerned about what I would do if I didn’t like Ira Wagler’s new book. After all, he’s been to my university twice, and over the years, I’ve got to know and appreciate him. The book is not quite what I had expected, and it is truly different in a few key ways from his first publication.
It is ironic that, as the world’s first secular democracy having scorned all state religion, we soon became and have remained, socially and politically, preoccupied with god. Campaign speeches end with “God bless you.” The song, “God Bless America,” which Irving Berlin wrote as a parody sung by a comically chauvinistic character, is now performed as a patriotic hymn.
You’ve probably already heard that The Mandalorian was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Children’s Program. And even if you weren’t familiar with the term Mandalorian before, chances are you’ve seen one: Boba Fett, the green-armored bounty hunter in the classic Star Wars film is a Mandalorian, a member of a clan-based society within the Star Wars universe known for their code of honor and warrior ways. We never saw Boba Fett’s face, he didn’t say much, and he didn’t take up much screen time. All this didn’t stop him from becoming a fan favorite back in the day. But would such a character work as a protagonist of a series?