Tuesday, April 29, 2014
A Tale of Two Immigrants
I could not have started this blog with words any better than those - thank you Mr. Dickens.
As an immigrant the Boston bombings last year hit me hard in two ways - one is at the loss of human life and the acts of terrorism against my country and one as an immigrant watching another set of immigrants from a former Soviet bloc country do this to that same country. It made me really angry !!!
Those of us who come here by choice - because invitations are rare and often only to people like David Beckham. We come here to fulfill needs such as lack of opportunities in home countries, fears of persecution in homelands, and dreams of what America means as much as the US as an actual place. America with it's faults and fault lines is still a beacon to the many, many people that have come through the ages and continue to come. New immigrants along side with those who have been here for generations are the fabric that weaves what is this nation. There is a lot that can be fixed in the US, so much that has drifted from this construct, but it is still there - the heart that beats beneath the land - the pulse that keeps this still a place that shows the world that it is not easy to live amongst those not like us but it is possible.
My parents, like many, came here with nothing except determination and dreams - they asked for nothing except opportunities to work, work that was not the highest paid, work that required many hours, many backaches and many times to make them understand that this may be the land of milk and honey but those things need to be paid for.
As I learned more about the terrorists I got angrier and angrier. They came from a place that is short on hope and long on suffering, they came with nothing, they came to family who willingly wanted to give 2 boys opportunities and freedom from fear. They were given chances to go to school, money for higher education and the ability to make this a place where they could help themselves live better and even help people back in their homeland. They chose to take and take and take until last year where they took the biggest chunk - they took life, they took calm, they took the hope of many around that area and they took from immigrants. They took from immigrants that pride so many of us have for adding to this country. They gave credibility to others here and around the world who never see immigration for the additions but just for the subtractions. They took from us, if for a second, the ability to fight with those who forget their own immigrant roots and point foolishly to others with shameful words like "send them home". This was their home and they treated it not like a palace but like an outhouse.
So as the Boston marathon happened this year, much like after 9/11 in NY, people from the States, from the world and of course from the Boston area showed them that they were Boston Strong - not afraid, not cowered. This race meant a lot for so many and then came Meb.
Meb Keflezighi - another refugee from a war torn land, another man who was given opportunities, another immigrant. He ran with a spring in his Skechers, with a smile on his face and with the names of the victims on his bib. He ran for the country whose citizenship he chose. Thank you Meb for giving more than taking, thank you for being the face of the US, thank you for being the American with the hard to pronounce name. Meb you are what those 2 could never be - you are a hero. As an immigrant I cannot tell you how much Meb's win meant to me. He won for all of us who came here through the ages. He won through hard work and dedication. Meb is the United States - people with funny names, that look different one from another, or speak different languages at home, or worship at various institutions, or choose not to worship, who love who they want. Meb is more American than those who preach hate and who call themselves that. Meb has reminded us what it is to strive, to smile and to feel proud. Meb CHOSE to do that. So I choose Meb.
I did not to mention those other 2 by name because they do not deserve to be given the respect of being called more than killer, terrorist. They gave up all that was given to them with their actions. I chose to only highlight the name of the man who deserves to have his name spoken with admiration. This blog is dedicated to the story of immigration - also known as choice.
Thank you and congratulations Meb - we are all Boston Strong (even those Yankee fans writing this) and we are all proud to be Americans by choice.