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Dutch~American Day
16 November 2021

The American Community Survey, compiled between 2008 and 2012 and being the most recent analysis, identified 2% of the total population of Bedford County as descending from Dutch ancestors.

Dutch~American Heritage Day was established in 1990 to honor the memory of the Netherlands being the first foreign country to recognize the United States of America.

On 16 November 1776, the American ship, the Andrew Doria, was saluted by the cannon of the Dutch island of Sint Eustatius. Cannon salutes were traditionally reserved for nations, so the salute presented to the Andrew Doria gave official recognition that the rebel colonies constituted a new nation.

On 14 November 1991, President George H. W. Bush declared the 16th of November as Dutch~American Heritage Day.

Dutch~American Heritage Day is celebrated by rejoicing in things that are emblematic of Dutch culture. Celebrants wear klompen, the ubiquitous wooden clog-style shoes. Traditional Dutch foods, which rely heavily on fish and vegetables, especially potatoes, are enjoyed. Plainly seasoned foods from the immigrants of the 1700s, such as cabbage and pea soup take center-stage in Dutch~American Heritage Day celebrations. Pastries including stroopwafels, made of wafers and caramel, and cookies flavored with almond paste are joined with brandy-soaked raisins. In fact, the word 'cookie' is derived from the Dutch word koekje.

On Dutch~American Heritage Day, the descendants of Dutch immigrants who have guided the United States of America are honored. Presidents who had Dutch ancestry included Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Two members of the Continental Congress: Egbert Benson and John Jay, were of Dutch descent. Philip Livingston and Lewis Morris were signers of the Declaration of Independence of Dutch descent.

Although Dutch settlement in North America did not extend much beyond New Amsterdam, which became New York, the names of the various boroughs and neighborhoods that remain to this day were derived from Dutch names. The Bronx gained its name from an early Dutch settler, Jonas Bronck. Brooklyn was derived from the Dutch name Breukelen. Coney Island started as Konijnen Eiland. Vlissingen became Flushing. The spelling of Harlem was only a single letter away from its antecendent Haarlem. The name of the Dutch Parliament, the Staten Generaal provided the name for Staten Island. And finally, Wall Street was derived from the Dutch Wal Straat.

It also must not be forgotten that secular Christmas celebrations in the United States make Santa Claus the center of attention. Santa Claus was a cultural descendant of Sinterklaas.

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