Just as the sun finally peeked through the grey clouds at this year’s Hessentag festival on June 8, Hessen Minister President Volker Bouffier slowly made his way through the three lines of men and women standing at attention in front of him. However, the men and women were not just members of the German armed forces, they were also police officers, emergency personnel and civilians.
On the last day of the annual Hessentag festivities, the state of Hessen honors citizens for their life-saving actions, community services and efforts to promote German-American relations. Bouffier stressed that the week-long festival was meant for the citizens and visitors of Hessen and that “today, we give a public award to citizens who are doing extraordinary things, often by risking their own life.” He thanked each of the 50 awardees personally for their services and emphasized that “in today’s world, there is significant lack of respect for emergency personnel.”
Among the awardees of this year’s Hessentag Award Ceremony was FWMR Outdoor Recreation Director Joseph Harris. Harris was publicly recognized for his work in strengthening German-American relations. Since 2014, he has been the coordinator of the German-American Friendship Fest and has significantly enhanced the cooperation between Germans and Americans. He ensures that German clubs that are dedicated to showcasing American culture are included in the fest every year, so that they have a place to share their love for American culture with Americans and Germans alike.
Additionally, Harris always invites German tourism offices and other agencies to advertise for their towns during the fest, in order to give Americans living in and around Wiesbaden ways to get to know their home in Germany.
During the ceremony, Bouffier and Col. Olaf von Roeder, commander of the Landeskommando Hessen, thanked the Bundeswehr and U.S. military in Germany for their service and cooperation.
The 58th Hessentag festival is held in a different city each year. This year’s location in Korbach brought more than 600,000 visitors to the northern part of Hessen.
The festival featured amusement rides, street performances, food and drinks and a variety of ways to learn more about the service and capabilities of the German military.
The week-long festivities ended with a big parade on June 5.