Thinking of my parents today, to whom the United States represented freedom, opportunity and independence after World War II. Post-war Germany didn’t hold the hope and future that they wanted for their family, so they packed everything they owned (one trunk’s worth) and their 4 small children, and flew halfway around the world to make this country their home.
It took 18 months of living in a resettlement camp in West Germany, where they had to go through tons of bureaucratic red tape, exams and shots and several false starts before they found a sponsor in the United States who would take a family with 4 children. Thanks to the World Church Service, we ended up being “adopted” by a Baptist church in Chicago where we all learned to become Americans.
My dad worked two jobs until he could save up enough money to buy a used car and move us into an apartment that fit. My mom learned English so quickly and so well that she lost her German accent, as did my dad. We kept our German traditions, and language, and stayed in touch with our relatives who were still in Germany, but we embraced our American-ness. And, after 10 years as legal aliens, we became proud citizens of the United States.
The 4th of July was always a happy celebration in our home. Because America was independent and free, we could be too.
Thanks Mom and Dad. I’m so grateful for your courage and vision, your hard work and dedication, and your love for us. I’m making sure that your grandchildren and great-grandchildren know of your sacrifices and triumphs so they can appreciate how we all got here.