Dreams Are Realized Here

All this talk of immigration has me appreciating my own roots. So often social media divides, but this week, Facebook was a unifier: at least when I posted two pictures of some of my own ancestors. 

Meet my paternal great-grandparents and their children.  They came from Calabria, Italy.    My Grandmother is the flapper girl on the far right.  Her name at birth was Carmella Vaccaro, but she called herself Mildred "Millie" Walker.  

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My mother's family came from Montenegro in the former Yugoslavia.  My maternal Grandfather worked in the coal mines of West Virginia, then sent for his wife and infant daughter, my Aunt Bess, who, by the way, is alive and well today in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

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I posted these and said, "Now show me your family pictures." I really wasn't trying to make a political point -- though there are many to be made. And I was overwhelmed with fabulous family photographs and remarkable stories. Here's just a small sampling.

Neha posted, 'Here are my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents in new Delhi, India in 1969 - the year my Grandparents would marry and come to the u-s so my Grandfather could study Civil Engineering at the University of Delaware. They immigrated alone, with just two suitcases."

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Lara said: 'My Grandfather and his mother and siblings. He was born here but his parents came from Mexico to work in the fields in California. Hard work and passion for his country and their devotion to raising a family has created generations of happy and successful Americans, passionate about the country in which we live. I am grateful for their sacrifices."

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Lawrence wrote, "Meet the original Hale family - my Great-Great Grandfather Lamon with my Great-Grandfather and his siblings. Like many African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves - I was only able to research back to 1857. Lamon was actually born Lamon franklin, his Slave master’s last name, but when the slaves were freed, he refused to carry it because the man was cruel and ornery. So Lamon chose the name of another slave master, Hale. Due to slavery and my ancestors being slaves… This is where my family tree stops.

Finally, these are Carol Ann's Maternal Great-Grandparents from Italy - with some of their 21 children, she says, "Known in family history as "The 21." Alexander Graham Bell used them as a case study of large families. This photo was in National Geographic in June of 1919."

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Almost all the pictures are grainy, black and white photos, depicting formally dressed, smile-less immigrants, willing to risk it all for a better life for themselves and their children. Arguably, nowhere else on the planet has enabled so many dreams to be realized. Let's not lose sight of that.