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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

THE LAST GENERATION

 "I pledge allegiance
to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one Nation
under God,
indivisible,
with liberty and
justice for all."

In life, there are many times when we are filled with regrets. There are times we wished we had said something, or done something that would have changed the course of our personal lives and somehow we are paralyzed to change things or turn back the clock.

If you do know me, I like to recall the past, the things that filled my heart and soul and stay indelibly in my mind. I do this because so many eventful things happened that I took for granted and shouldn’t have, yet there was no other way for these events to unfold!

I talk of course of my wonderful and brave grandparents, braving the unknown, bridling their fears and with great personal sacrifice, came to America, where the streets were paved with gold, where opportunity lie and hunger did not exist so they thought.

We seem to all know the stories, all have a few we can tell, yet many of us don’t tell, either they feel inadequate to tell them or feel the next generation doesn’t care enough to hear them.

From one generation to the next
There is a “Great Generation” one that lived through the Great Depression, a great War and witnessed the world at its maddest, they are of course our parents and grandparents.  Their lives were lived by the events as they unfolded, and those lives taught us as children and grandchildren, what life was.

When I think back to my grandparents, aunts, and uncles, I recall the sounds of home. The gentleness of immigrants who fought the battles of acceptance in a foreign culture and witnessed their children enjoying the benefits. I recall so many of them gently pinching my cheek in affection, asking questions about life as I saw it, going to baptismal and traversing the family events all the way to college graduations, marriages and sadly, even deaths. They could only recall their struggles to come to make a better life that I enjoyed, their pride was my being, their testament was the scar and callouses of a hard life. I remember the look of excitement when a family met for the first time after months of separation, of laughter over dinners and the admonishment of not eating or drinking. I remember their dress, the simple dress, and habits of peasants. I remember the times when Mom cooked special just for me, and Dad came over and lent his assistance, the fawning over grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I remember the stories told about the old country and experiences on the boat that took them here, about the unfamiliarity of the culture and the funny things they did to adapt to a new one. Of aunts and uncles working on jobs, hard backbreaking and sometimes crippling jobs, jobs that fed themselves and their children, helped educate and implant the joy and honor of having a job, the pride of a man’s wealth, his family.

Our generation can to some degree attest to their sacrifices, love, and teachings, and most of all tell them to later generation, but time is running out for us! When we are gone who will know or remember? Those stories, all that were recorded will be all there is, so we will forever close the books on the greatest part of America history. I say this not only to Italian-Americans but those of Irish, Polish, Slavic, German, Asian and other extractions also.

As I write this, it tugs at my heart knowing I will never see these wonderful characters ever again. Gone are my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents, all with their beautiful old-world ways and expressions. I can cry for one more day with them, one more questions to ask, on more meal to spend and one more day to remember.

When they first took the pledge of allegiance to this country, they took it as they would a marriage vow, it was the marriage of simple people with a complex entity, they understood their pledge and they lived it every day. But the best thing they did with that pledge; was teaching it to the generations that followed, adding a

love of family and pride in hard work to give it meaning.

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