What does it mean to be an American? To me it means everything. What it means goes beyond my place of birth. For me it goes back to when millions of Irish people, Italians, and Eastern Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of a better life.
My mother’s parents were refugees who came to this country from Russia. They fled religious persecution as the pogroms claimed the lives of their families. They made a good life for themselves in the safety of Coney Island, owning a dry goods store. They never talked about the old country: only about how lucky they were in America, the land of freedom.
My father’s father left his family in Romania as a young adult, because they were poor. Once in America, he pursued his dream, became a chef and made a future for himself. My father’s mom was born in Palestine. She was the oldest of ten children and was sent to America to find opportunity and a better life. She often talked of her pride in living in America and loved to sing the song, “America the Beautiful.” My grandparents felt lucky, blessed, and safe to raise their children in the freedom of this beautiful country. (More…)