Saturday, August 20, 2016


Over the years I have read about the Italian-American experience, and particularly the coming to American by our forbearers. I have read and seen movies heard eye-witness accounts of the process of immigration and the heroic accounts of crossing the ocean and entering through Ellis Island, where most of our ancestor’s footprints marked the soil for those of us who followed.

But in spite of the reading, comments, and movies, there is still something missing for me, WHAT WAS IT LIKE, WHAT FEELINGS WERE CONJURED UP in the people who entered our shores, and gave us the right to say: “Our shores”?

Crossing that ocean, with its wide expanse, the countless hours of the horizon, that offered a new world, faceless as one waited to see the Statue of Liberty appear for the first time, could only satisfy my imagination through what I feel, not what I know.

What was in the heart when the horizon yielded the lonely profile of Lady Liberty? Was it curiosity or excitement, was it the feeling of dread to face the unknown, or resolve to make a new life? What were the sense of anticipation as the ship docked and the landscape behind the water’s edge, promised a large city, so grand, so bursting with energy it set the tone and pattern for the rest of one’s life?

And the process itself? Being on a line to have your body examined, your passport scrutinized and your being certified? And when it was done, all the questions asked, the paperwork in order, and the physicals over, and the immigration officials tell you to step forward through the doors of freedom for the first time, what was that like?

Ellis Island is sacred soil, it is the story and truth of America, it is the living testament that America with all that is right and wrong with it, is still the greatest country in the world, be it said in English, Italian, Spanish or through the eyes of the Christian and Muslim worlds that survive and thrive because we guarantee their existence. The proudest reason of why I am an American is because my grandparents, who taught us the right things to say and do, the respect for and love of the country they adopted also; choose this wonderful land.


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