A Nation of Immigrants?

Or Is It A World of Immigrants . . .

Obama and JFK both used those words, but it’s an ancient phrase.  From time immemorial people have moved because of famine, war, and floods. The Bible is full of stories of such migrations and here at our home in the Americas, Indians came across the Bering Straits from Asia, some 12,000 (+or-) years ago.  

Today, it’s the Latinos and made worse because there are no oceans to cross, they simply walk or drive in, and though their labor is wanted, a good percentage don’t want jobs, just a market for Drugs.  Problems.  Big  problems.  Massive drug problems. And Mexican officials make no move to stop it.

I’ve known three ‘immigrant’ families well.  A friend of mine was a Musician, taught piano, and two highly educated immigrant families took their children to him for training.

One couple was Vietnamese.  Both highly educated, and for them it was either leave their country or be killed.   We had them to dinner one night and I asked what they’d do when peace came and in surprise, they said, “Why, go back home.”  Well, their side lost the war, and so they are now U.S. citizens.

Another pair who took a child to my friend for such training was Lebanese and were forced to leave a home that had been his family’s for generations.  It was (is?) sheltered amid the fabled Cedars, far back from the horror that was Beirut, but that didn’t matter.  The ‘other’ side won that war, too, and they became U.S. citizens but they sorrow to know  that strangers now claim their cherished home, its large rooms, old furniture and family treasures.

And the third one?  He was an American Indian, worked to make my yard livable, and, as I think about it now, his people had been here far longer than mine, and if any one was an interloper, it was me, not he.

His people had been here for 15,000 or so years and were old-timers when William Bradford, the great, great, great, great, great (you count them, I don’t care) grandparent of my sons stepped off the Mayflower as an immigrant.

My Indian’s story is also sad, but different. From his family’s lore, (older than the Plymouth Rock landing) had come the tale of deposits of gold in the southwestern mountains of the U.S.  Hearing those ancient directions since childhood, he slowly became restless and filled with a yearning to explore the truth or falsehood of the tales.

I now think the words he’d heard were true, too true, for he never returned when expected and people of that area know the horror stories that go  hand-in-glove with this kind of happening, and shy away from them.  But yes, when my friend  was finally found, they also found a bullet hole in his head.

Did he find. or even get too close to the mines?  No one will ever know. For after four, five months, the rain, sun, and animals had their way with his body, along with the ‘clean- up’ by whoever’s gun made the hole in his head, for there were no clothes found and animals don’t eat clothing or shoes, or the backpack he took with him. There truly were no clues. And no one wants  to wander into those mountains and desert to find out the ‘who and why’ of it all. Bullet holes in the head, I understand, are not unusual.

Immigrants, all of us, but it seems to me that the motive for ‘coming to America’ has changed.  Maybe most Latinos come for the same reason our ancestors did, a new life, and expected to be either welcomed or at least tolerated.

But the Drug Traffickers have ruined it for others. And, also, today, people everywhere are on the move, and not just to the U.S.  It’s now almost an endless flow of people, from one place to another, taking their pains, sorrows and losses with them and it just might  be they are forming the final answer. 

More and more it’s not a Nation of Immigrants, but with transportation and communication so speedy, and with war and famine so prevalent, we’re beginning to hear a new phrase,  “A World of Immigrants”.  Like it or not, wars and famine do that to people, and we’ve seen more than our share of both.

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