When German immigrants arrived in the hill country of Texas in the mid-1840s, they not only escaped the turmoil that erupted in Germany in 1848, they also achieved a peaceful arrangement with the existing inhabitants rivaling that of William Penn in Philadelphia, and never breached.
The leader of the new arrivals, who anglicized his name from Baron Ottfried Hans von Meusebach to John O. Meusebach, is memorialized along with his Comanche treaty-making counterpart in a group sculpture at the marktplatz of Fredericksburg, the town founded by Meusebach in 1846.
The group sculpture includes Meusebach and the Comanche chief sharing a peace pipe as well as a standing figure representing other local inhabitant groups. The photo shows the three historical personalities in a pose that figures prominently in local legend.
It is said that some of the new arrivals disapproved of slavery and of the secession by Texas from the Union. But Fredericksburg later contributed one of our most eminent military leaders. This was in World War II, when Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, a native son, commanded our forces doing battle with Japan.
The city is host to the National Museum of the Pacific War, which includes the George H.W. Bush Gallery. His rescue by an American submarine after his plane was shot down is depicted in such detail that one is bound to marvel at his courage and at the good fortune of the country that he could go on to become Ronald Reagan’s vice president and then to be president himself.
The World War II battles in the Pacific Theater of Operations are depicted at the museum in often-harrowing detail. I was asked by a grandson how flame-throwers were used, and was reluctant to answer in specifics. Fortunately, the museum is accompanied by the Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from that country. Also nearby is the Plaza of Presidents, describing the World War II service of 10 U.S. presidents, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to George H.W. Bush, who was born the day after I was.