Sunday, February 25, 2018



When I was growing up, especially in Brooklyn, the day's events always had the flavor of or influence of the Italian immigrants who came to America and raised their children with the dreams of a better tomorrow.

Often lessons were learned from the ‘old-timers' that spoke imperfect English but with perfect hearts, teaching me the history of where I came from, the lessons I would apply to me later along the path of life.

There were many nationalities with the same bent, teaching their children how lucky they were to be living in this great country and how you show respect to the flag, imperfect that it is yet offering all the sunshine and warmth there is in the life of a free man.

I have always remembered those people, my ancestors that so affected my life and electrified my pride in being of Italian roots. Find a room filled with Italians and you find your pulse once again, your joy for life renewed and your day filled with all kinds of emotions from laughter to sobbing on occasions. Theirs was a simple faith in God, a reverence for the flag and deep duty to their families. What they believed they taught to their children, instilling it with their own force of character and loving mindset.

I think it important to keep these people alive, even though many have long ago passed on. Their memories are indeed alive, their teaching still teaches, and the fear of disappointing them still persist to this day in me. We need to know about the hardships they endured, the prejudices they felt, the avoidance they received from those around them who were not Italian. We need to re-tell their stories to all generations to come.
Grandma and me. We may have come over on the same boat!

Coming to America was not easy, it was not guaranteed you would have success once you arrived, and immigrants had to prove so much to so many including their own kind about the new wave of immigration. Overcoming suspicion was a big barrier to master. Children growing up under these conditions were suffering the humiliation of having to interpret to their parents in order to buy insurance, apply for help or speak with a doctor. Often, I remember the times my mom or dad had to stand in for my grandparent because my grandparent could not speak or understand English.

But the immigrants made sure that their children were clean and well-fed, and always respectable.


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