Friday, April 30, 2010

Grandson of a legal immigrant

My grandfather Jacob Wildstein was an immigrant from eastern Europe, specifically Austria.  He was naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America by the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, NY on March 13, 1924.


Thus I am the descendant of an immigrant to the United States.  My grandfather did not climb a border fence nor did he sneak into the United States on the back of a truck.  He came proudly from eastern Europe on a ship to escape from antisemitism and to become an American citizen.  He worked with his brother Samuel to establish a textile factory business in Newark, N. J.  Both brothers became successful and paid their own way while here in the States.

Grandpa Jack did not arrive here for welfare, free health care, free education, food stamps, or a social security card. He came here to become a citizen of the United States  He never expected other U.S. citizens to learn to speak his native language Austrian or Russian.  He did not expect thousands of U.S. documents and signs to be printed in his native language. Jacob Wildstein took classes and learned to speak English-the language of the United States.

He took several jobs when he first came to America and paid both state and federal taxes.  He only received social security at age 65 after he himself paid into the system after the law was passed in 1935.

Several years ago I took one of my son Jonathan to New York and we visited Ellis Island.  After searching the wall where the names of many immigrants were engraved, I found my grandfather's name. Tears of pride came to my eyes as I thought of the blessing of being here as a U.S. citizen because of my grandfather.

In the case of illegal immigrants, their names will never be engraved nor memorialized at Ellis Island nor will their names be engraved on the border walls they hopped over to illegally enter the United States.

Advocates of allowing illegal immigrants to be given amnesty to become citizens of the U.S., often say, "This country was built on immigrants."  No it wasn't. This country was built on men like my grandfather-a legal immigrant, not an illegal immigrant.

Because of my grandfather's hard work and savings, he helped pay a portion of my college tuition.  All he asked was that I maintain above average grades.  He did not teach me to expect the government to pay all my bills apart from the amount I received from the G. I. Bill after serving in Vietnam. Grandpa Jack did not teach me that America exists so I can grab all I can from the government, but rather to give all I can to our country.

Oddly enough, his wife Minna, my grandmother, did a lot of charity work for cancer during the 60s.  In recognition for her giving nature, she received a letter of thanks from the thirty fifth president of the United States-John F. Kennedy. As a young boy,  I would ask my grandmother to show me the letter and I would stare at JFK's signature.  I was proud of my grandmother because she embodied what President Kennedy said in his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for but for what you can do for country."

Today, under the limping leadership of President Obama, he has dismantled the truth of JFK's statement by nurturing a society that seeks to take everything they can from our the taxpaying citizens of the U.S. and to go very little in giving back in return.  The attitude of illegal immigrants is "take what you can from the U.S. government" embodies the opposite spirit proclaimed by democratic president John F. Kennedy and goes against everything my legal immigrant grandparents stood for and passed on to me as their grandson.
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4 comments:

Louis Lapides said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
茂鴻 said...

Well done!........................................

Louis Lapides said...

Thank you. More people need to share the stories of their ancestors coming to America.

Anonymous said...

My family on both my mother's and father's sides have been in north america since before the united states got started, arriving from Scotland and Ireland.

We did not arrive with documents. Yet we went on to fight in every major war this country's been involved in up through Korea, have Governors and Senators in the family and have generally been contributors.

If you want to live in a country where folks are less tolerant of border crossers, I would recommend you do so.

You seem to be fond of Israel; I understand that they need lots more citizens there. If you qualify for citizenship there, please, don't let the door hit your Johnny-come-lately ass on the way out.