Saturday, January 28, 2017

The American Dream

I am second-generation American.

I'm the youngest in my generation, and both my parents were the youngest in their generations. My grandparents were born in the 1880s and emigrated to America in the early years of the 20th century.

My father's parents were illiterate immigrants from Poland. They never learned to speak English or to read or write any language. They came over dirt poor. My father was born in a tenement in Boston. His father worked his ass off in a factory and, after a few years, saved enough money to buy a small farm in Acton, Mass., where my father grew up. My father was the first person in his family to go to college. He eventually got a doctorate in education.

My mother's parents were from Ireland. They were in better shape when they came to America. They were better educated, there were many teachers in the family, and my mother's father was a skilled carpenter. However, it was still difficult for immigrants to find work, regardless of schooling, skill or experience. It has never been easy for immigrants in America. It has always meant hard work.

This country was built by and on the backs of immigrants. I don't understand how we went from a melting pot to an immigration ban in one century. It certainly does not make America look good. People do not come to America for a free ride. They come here because they are out of options and they believe in The American Dream. The REAL American Dream, not the dream to win the lottery; they believe The Dream that if they work hard enough, one day, they may help create a better world for their children, and their children's children. I have many students who are immigrants or children of immigrants. In them, I see the same hope that my Polish and Irish grandparents had when they moved to America. And, like my father, many of them are the first in their families to attend college. They love their adopted homeland of America, and just like my grandparents, they love the things that make this country great, especially the freedoms afforded us by the Constitution.

I haven't posted on my blog in a long time, but I felt this is important.