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Looking back in time… becoming an American

June 8, 2015

The begrimed concrete sidewalk had not been white for decades, mainly because these old homes were heated by coal furnaces. Today as I walked the few blocks on an errand for my grandmother I never notice the sooty coal dust beneath my feet, probably because at my young age it didn’t matter. I was in a Lithuanian enclave of Philadelphia that in 1954 was known as Port Richmond. It was only a few blocks from my grandmothers home to the garage/smokehouse where I would pick up her order of Kielbasi, but if this was 2015 she probably would have been arrested for child endangerment for allowing me to walk alone.

Then again that was the 50’s and people in the different ethnic neighborhood enclaves around the city, weather it was Lithuanian, Italian, Polish, Irish or German looked out for each other and a child walking the streets was akin to a Roman walking across Europe…they were protected. Though my grandmother lived in a poor neighborhood that was predominantly blue collar workers, they were proud of their heritage, their homes and respectful of those who lived around them. Whatever the ethnic background of the many diverse neighborhoods at that time in Philadelphia they had one overriding trait and that was they were also ‘chest beating’ ‘teary eyed’ proud….to be an American.

They never lost and quite often reveled in their love of heritage but they had worked hard to assimilate and become American citizens. In the 50’s most were second generation Americans but with their immigrant parents still alive they were often reminded each day that despite their heritage they were above everything else an American. When their parents first immigrated here they knew full well that many hardships awaited them but they were willing to overcome them for the sake of their children’s future. They were required to have either a sponsor who would provide shelter and employment, or the finances to be able to set themselves up and not be a drain on the government. They knew they would have to learn to speak, read and write English the language of their now adoptive country, and they also knew they would have to abide by the laws and customs of this country.

So why, despite these hardships, instead of deterring those millions of immigrants did the tide of people wanting to come her continue? I believe for the simple fact that each one of them understood that America was a land of opportunity and they knew with hard work, no matter where they came from, they could build a new better life for themselves and their family. And though they sought out others from their own ethnicity for support their goal was not to become an Italian, German or Pole living in the Unites States but simply an American.

Today we allow millions to enter this country illegally
many of whom are looking for us to support them
and most have no intention of subjugating their ethnicity
and becoming an American like those that made America great.

Is it any wonder that America is no longer a melting pot
but quickly becoming a third world country

my internet connection is again down
so this posting brought to you by
Winlink the Ham radio email system.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2015 10:40 am

    Nice synopsis, Pete!


  2. Jon permalink
    June 11, 2015 6:02 pm

    Can’t add a thing to this post. Thought-provoking, Pete.


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