How The Baron Got His Day

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Baron von Steuben lay in his northern New York grave more or less forgotten by everyone but scholars of the American Revolution until 1919. Then German-Americans, deeply disturbed by the propaganda generated by World War I, set about reviving him as a symbol of their patriotism. Chapters of the Steuben Society were founded in cities and towns with large German-American populations. During the 1930s they were vociferously anti-Nazi. In 1958, the 275th anniversary of the first German immigration to America, New York Steubenites began marching up Fifth Avenue, like the Irish-Americans on St. Patrick’s Day. The idea spread to Philadelphia and Chicago. All three parades now take place within a week of Steuben’s birthday, September 17.