About Immigration

Posted on May 14, 2010

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This is a story of immigration to the USA. It was told to me when I was very young. I sat in the back yard with my Grandfather eating figs. And as we sat there I asked him if he missed Italy. I asked if he missed his family. And being so young I asked him if he ever wanted to go back to his country. I asked him all this because I was curious and was thinking about me. Thinking would I be able to do what he did?

He showed me the damage to his tongue caused by the gas in the trenches and the tunnels during the war. Being so young and only knowing about war from watching TV shows at the time I thought he was in WW2. I told him not to tell people he fought for his country. I thought he meant Italy.

He finally told me that he fought in WW1 for HIS country. The United States. He told me Italy was His country and now this is His country. He said he didn’t want to go back. His answer was simple, if I wanted to go back I would have never left. And as for his family he said if they wanted to see him they could come here. He told me his choice to come here was to have a better life for him and the family he wanted to raise. He took great pride in living here and learning to live like an American. He learned the language and learned the rules and the laws. He wasn’t treated all that well but said it was a small price to pay to have his family grow up in America. He told me here we could be anything we wanted to be. His dream was to be like the Kennedy’s. Where we would all have to work hard and someday our kids would have the good life. He was a little man with a very big plan. Every year he would put on that old uniform and marched in our Memorial Day Parade. He always told me to be good and to work hard. To follow the law and to not give up. He taught me to go to church and to pray for Gods help if things didn’t go so well.

He was a good, decent man who gave up everything he knew as a young man to give his family a better chance than he had. Proud to have fought for America and never once looking back to where he came from.

I’ve learned over the years he was not the only one. Almost all of the people I’ve met in my life have said very similar things. But all have spoken of the heartache and the pride of coming here and of the opportunity this country could offer their children.

Does this sound anything like what we have to live with today? Does it sound like the people coming from other countries that we are fighting so hard for? He never would have broken the law. He never would have demanded the celebration of Italian Holidays. And no ever told him to press two to speak in Italian. He knew it was up to him to learn English or leave. But he did it out of pride and out of respect to a Nation that took him in and gave him the opportunity he craved to make his children and there children have something he could never have.

I am sometimes confused by what I see. My Grandparents were not the only ones I could tell you that did this. All immigrants at that time did it. They wanted many things and knew they had to work very hard to get them. And they did it with out demanding anything. They all knew they had to earn what they wanted. And they knew it wouldn’t be easy. Many Americans didn’t want them here. They took their lumps and remained silent. They did it for their families and like my Grandfather, they did it out of a sense of commitment to a Country that gave them a chance. They all worked dirty jobs and saved there money. Never once causing a problem and always looking at the greater good. Dreaming of the day when future generations of their families would get an education and not have to work like they did.

I see in some people this today this same commitment. But not all of it. They all come here wanting and demanding. Never wanting to earn anything. They want it handed to them. And they don’t care if they break the law to do it. And never once wanting to assimilate into the country that has given them the opportunity for a better life. Where is the commitment to a Nation that has opened their doors to these people when they march in the streets for the right to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Where is the commitment and the pride and the sense of obligation in these people when they refuse to learn to speak English?

My Grandparents and many, many others took this road. The road of sacrifice and of pride. It is how we became the great Country we are today. He was one of the proudest Americans I’ve even known. He was given an opportunity and committed his whole life to paying that back.

This is not what I see when I look at what is going on now. What I see now is a complete disrespect for all of the people who have come here before. The ones that built this Country. They were not takers they were givers. And they learned the language and they learned to work within the laws of this Country. I believe we should fight to give anyone the opportunities my family has had. But I have to draw the line at helping someone who just comes here and wants it all and has started their journey by breaking the law. I still believe many people in the world would love to live here. But the truth is if you can’t play by the rules, you should forfeit your right to do so. If your not willing to make the commitment that is being asked of you , then sorry you need to leave.

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