A Nation of Immigrants

Frank and Catherine Kasper - East Boston Airport, MA 1928

We are a nation of immigrants. These are the words that President Obama repeated several times in his speech last night.  This is a fact that has colored my life and driven my passion for teaching those who find themselves without the tools to function in the United States.

The picture above is of my grandparents.  My grandfather's parents came to the US in the late 1800's from Bohemia/Hungary/Slovenia. (The place name dependent on who had control of the area and when.)   My grandfather was born in New York - first generation American. But, shortly after his birth, his parents returned to Kassabela (the town in what was then Hungary) for reasons we do not know.  In January of 1914, they sent my grandfather back to New York, through Ellis Island, to live with his older brother. A few short months later, Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated and World War I began. 

My grandfather enlisted, as did many young man of the time.  He returned, unlike so many others, met and married my grandmother and raised a family.  

My grandmother's family had been in the country a bit longer. She is second generation American. Her family is of Irish/Welsh decent. When my mother was 13, my grandmother died of spinal tuberculosis.

This month, I honor my immigrant ancestors by writing poems to raise funds for the Center for New Americans.  The Center or CNA as we call it, is a place were new immigrants and refugees can find resources necessary to live in this great land.  

Why is writing 30 Poems in November so important?  When my ancestors came to the US, there were no resources, other than their own wit and determination to succeed. I write to remind others that, unless we are Native Americans, we came from away.  I write to honor the struggle of all who come in search of freedom.  I write to memorialize my ancestors.  I write because I believe that we, as a nation, have always given thanks for what we had, sharing from our bounty, even when that bounty is small.

Please help me make my goal of raising $500 for CNA so that we can continue our literacy programs. (Click on the 30 Poems in November link to make a tax-deductible donation.) 

After all, we are a nation of immigrants!  Do it to honor your ancestors!  For all those who will be served, I offer our most sincere gratitude.


PS:  Here is a poem I wrote awhile ago about where Roger and I "come from."  Children of immigrants in the family of humans on planet Earth!


We come from blue-green mountains and hidden valleys deep

        We come from tree lined streets and ocean washed shores

We come from ginseng secrets, wild berries and trout the size of your arm

        We come from back window gardens, Rosa Ragusa and gull’s laughter

From convictions, pulpits and revivals we hail

        From incensed masses, catechism and retreats we hail

We know the scent of laurel on a summer’s night, the song of a creek in early fall

        We know the smell of cement wet from spring rain, the whisper of snow along the shore

We are the sons and daughters of Black Forest guardians, Highland dancers, Norman warriors

        We are the daughters and sons of Deutschland sailors, Lace-curtain poets and Slavic horsemen

Across the restless seas, over snow-capped ranges, down weary roads we came

        Each searching, each yearning, each believing in a common dream

We are bound by the Spirit of Love, the Essence of Hope, and the Wellspring of Faith

        Our connections link us through time, across boarders and into each moment

We are family!

By Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
© November 2005 


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