(Photo taken 4 months before my parents were killed on AA Flight #965)
“It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes and leave their families and risk everything to come to America. Their talent and hard work and love of freedom have helped make America the leader of the world. And our generation will ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hope fill society this world has ever known.” — George W. Bush
Let’s say you live in an English speaking country (for this example, let it be the USA), surrounded by your family and friends that have been your support system since the day you were born. Now imagine your ability to succeed, your freedom to prosper, your peace and safety, and your options to feed your family are drastically limited by outside sources out of your control.
Would you be brave enough to pack a bag, gather your children and leave everything you’ve ever known behind? Could you leave everyone you’ve ever loved to start your life over again in a new land? How quickly (as an adult) do you think it would take you to be fluent in a completely different language? How quickly could you do your current job in Russian, French or Spanish? How frustrated would you feel when people couldn’t understand you or dismissed you because of your accent that you are so painstakingly trying to improve?
I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to start completely over in a strange land. I can’t imagine leaving my familiar surroundings, leaving all my friends and extended family and leaving everything that wove me into the person I am today; to leave it all behind for the biggest gamble I could ever make for a better life. But I sure am infinitely grateful that my parents endured all those changes, weathered all those unknowns, and conquered all their fears to immigrate to the United States in the 1960’s. I can’t imagine my life anywhere else. The sacrifices they made will endure and spark inspiration and pride in my sons, their children, and their children’s children. I’ll make sure of it.
September 15th marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a month of thanksgiving and pride for me and my family. I wish my parents were still alive so they could see how many strides their children have made. I wish I could spoil them with gifts, trips and gratitude. I wish I could properly thank them for their bravery, for the lasting example their work ethic created, and the sense of duty their steadfast dedication to family instilled in me. In a perfect world they’d still be here enjoying the multigenerational fruits of their labor. But they are not; so I will do my best to carry on their bravery, work ethic and dedication with grace.
Unless you are 100% Native American, you too have much to be thankful and proud. Somewhere down the line you had a brave ancestor that weathered the fears and challenges my parents did not so long ago. And look how great you turned out! This month we can all give thanks for the country we (our ancestors) made home, and we can also look at the immigrants in our communities with a little bit more respect and appreciation because I am nowhere near as brave as them. Are you?
Let’s all celebrate what makes us uniquely US. Let’s all celebrate what brings us together and what we share in common. You don’t have to be Hispanic to enjoy “my” month, because we all share much more in common than we realize.
I miss being out on the road seeing you all. Quarantine has brought clarity to what truly matters and what I’m thankful for. My clients and the community created through this blog are on my list of gratitude. Stay safe friends!