Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for the Week of Oct. 21, 2019

Welcoming Faraway Visitors to the State Capitol

We get many visitors to the State Capitol over the course of the year. There are often school groups wandering the halls, learning about state government and exploring our beautiful State Capitol. People come from all over our state to visit the State Museum or to meet with their elected representatives and discuss the issues that matter most to them. Others come from decidedly farther away than Missouri.

Representative Rudy Veit and Senator Mike Bernskoetter met with Hans Friedel Parei (center) and showed him and his guests around the State Capitol.

On Oct. 15, I had the privilege to welcome Hans Friedel Parei to the Missouri State Capitol. He comes to us from Westfalen, Germany. At age 75, Hans is visiting Missouri for the first time to reconnect with his family. Back in the 1800s, many of Hans’s relatives immigrated to the United States and made new homes in Missouri. As the years wore on, Hans’s family in Germany lost connection with those who had moved to the United States. After exploring his family’s history, Hans decided to help restore these long-lost family connections, and today, he is reconnecting with family members throughout central and southeastern Missouri.

It was great to have the opportunity to chat with Hans (with the help of an interpreter) and learn more about his journey to reconnect with his family here in the United States.

It’s great to see people learning more about their past and how that connects to the present. Missouri has been heavily influenced by people like Hans’s family who braved a trip across the ocean to come to this country. Throughout the 19th century, Missouri was one of several states that saw a large influx of German immigrants. Many of the names of Missouri towns and the people who live there also reflect German heritage. In fact, the part of Missouri stretching from Jefferson City to St. Louis reminded German settlers so much of home, they dubbed the area the “Missouri Rhineland” after the famous wine-producing region along the Rhine River.

The connection between Missouri and Germany works both ways, as shown by Hans and his commitment to family. Through learning about his past and present family, Hans has formed a special place in his heart for the Show-Me State. He proudly flies a Missouri flag at his home in Germany.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at