Every day my phone is pinging me the latest update from the Oval Office, Executive Order after Executive Order. For the sake of my phone’s battery life, can we please somehow take away this man’s pen?
I’m baffled. I’m stumped. The darkest periods of our collective history are beginning to repeat themselves and I guess we haven’t learned.
To list the offensives of our current administration would be redundant. We’re all being pinged with the same notifications, we’re all seeing the sam headlines, we’re all aware. But what I’ve noticed is that the far-right have truly denied their past, regardless how proud of their heritage they may be. This is a post for them. This is a reminder.
For a lot of people we see in the media – the Tomi Lahrens and Bannons of the world – their lineage has been in the United States for almost as long as this country has existed. For an overwhelming majority, however, their lineage can still be traced back to foreign countries with those who came here still alive and well. The majority of people I know fall into the latter group.
In my family, an unfortunate number support the current administration. They voted him in. These same people are the ones who boast about their Italian heritage. These same people are the ones who immigrated here for a better life. Yet all I can hear them talk about is how we need to build the wall and that “if people want to come here they must not be terrorists and they can do it legally, like we did.”
So, it’s storytime. It’s time for a reminder.
In November 1940, my Nonna was born in Libya. She was raised in Tripoli until her mother passed away. I had family in Libya until 1968.Now her birthplace is in one of the countries banned from entry into the US under this administration’s executive order.
In World War II, my family lost everything. My great-grandfather was forced to fight under Fascist Italy and was a prisoner of war in England. My great-grandmother, pregnant with her third child, was forced to have an abortion which ultimately took her life and that of her unborn child. My other great-grandfather paid the ultimate price working to save the Jews. He led an Italian psuedo-Underground Railroad for Jews to escape the Nazis, got caught and was sent to Yugoslavia. He died in a concentration camp.
The other side of my family always had nothing. They watched the Germans take over their tiny mountain village that overlooked the Mediterranean and fill it with their ammunition. I grew up listening to anecdotes about gun powder left in bedrooms, my nonno’s friends blowing off limbs with leftover grenades, and my nonna scowering the beach for food only to find more grenades.
My family had nothing. They loved their homeland, but they knew they needed to go somewhere that offered opportunity. And the United States opened their doors to them, even if they weren’t the most welcoming.
My family anticipated a land where the streets were paved with gold, but knew they’d be expected to pave them. And they were proud to do so. My grandparents became naturalized Americans. My parents were only able to achieve their success thanks to this country opening the door to my grandparents. I have been afforded my privilege thanks to courage of people willing to leave their home and do better.
My family’s story is similar to most American’s. My family’s story is a part of our collective history. In the decades to come, their story will be echoed through the grandchildren of the immigrants and refugees wanting the same now as my Italian family did fifty years ago.
So to those who are working to close our doors to those who need to come here the most, just think about where you would be if the door was closed to you, your parents, your grandparents, etc.
The United States was made great by immigrants and thrives only when our doors and minds remain open. Remember that.
Images from today’s protest in Copley Square: