Thursday, November 26, 2009

"How Many Days to America? - A Thanksgiving Story"

My children range in age from 13 to 24. In their younger years, one of the traditions in which our family faithfully engaged was the evening reading of books together before bedtime. "How Many Days to America? - A Thanksgiving Story" (authored by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Bev Peck) was a traditional read in our home - a home that was rather unique, as our six adopted children had widely varied backgrounds and 'personal stories.' The book does not recount the Pilgrim's tale, but tells the story of a Carribean family's efforts to come to America in modern times via a small boat to be "safe and free." It is a book I was never able to finish (as my children still remind me), because my eyes would well up and my voice would crack and I had to put it down.

The Immigrant Story is one that touches the very essence of my soul. Oddly enough, my own family has been here since the Dutch landed in Nieuw Amsterdam (New York) in the 1600s...but there is something about the human desire for freedom that resonates very deeply within me. Whether it was Dutch traders looking for a new business venture in the New World; religious refugees in 17th Century Europe; victims of the Irish famine, the Scottish Clearances, or the 30 Years War that ripped apart the German lands; Haitians fleeing the most impovershed and corrupt nation in the western hemishphere; Russians looking to taste freedom for the first time in their lives; Jews seeking a new start upon the liberation of Buchenwald; the forced travels of African slaves, Native Americans on the Trail of Tears, or the expulsion of the Acadian French; or Latin Americans seeking a just rule of law and better opportunities...the immigrant experience of leaving everything known and familiar and seeking to carve one's own place in peace, freedom, and prosperity is one of humankinds' most astounding and emotional stories.

And so, on Thanksgiving, I am doing much soul-searching, and offering much thanks for my nation...and also soberly recognizing the threats we are under from both the socialist left and the theocratic right. Having been involved in political battles my entire life, I don't believe I have ever seen this nation so divided and so 'under siege' from within as well as from without. Even the riots and political divisions of the late 1960s, through the Kent State Massacre and the Watergate era seem to pale in comparison to the current regime's power grab throughout the economy and the strident, shrill opposition being commandeered by Neo-Puritans on the far right.

It gives one pause. It strengthens Resolve. And it spurs one on to new adventures in the reclaimation, preservation and expansion of Freedom.

Stay tuned for a coming announcement...

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