My ancestors came from every corner of the world to join and blend into America. Proud of their accomplishments and sad to imagine the world and family they left behind, I applaud their strengths. And this Thanksgiving, I say a special thank you for them and for the many who enter America legally, the way most immigrants did between 1900-1940 and later. I found the following article on the Huffington post written by Frank Islam on November 1, 2015. Even though my ancestors sailed from Spain to Hawaii and then re-immigrated through San Francisco, there were thousands who entered on the east coast and into New Orleans. It is with an overwhelming heart that I sit down this Thanksgiving and feel their conflicts and imagination.
America has always prided itself on being a nation of immigrants. The Statue of Liberty provides eloquent testimony to that with its inscription, which reads, in part:
Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
The achievements and the contributions of immigrants to the nation's success over time are legion. Famous first generation American immigrants, to name just a few, include: Albert Einstein (originally from Germany), I.M. Pei (an architect from China), Joseph Pulitzer (a newspaper publisher from Hungary), Felix Frankfurter (a Supreme Court justice from Austria), Madeleine Albright (the Secretary of State from Czechoslovakia), Hakeem Olajuwon (a basketball player from Nigeria) and Saint Francis X, along with Mother Cabrini (a nun from Italy).
More recently, it's been Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, who came here from Russia, and two scientists, Elizabeth Blackburn (from Australia) and Jack Szostak (from the U.K. via Canada) who shared the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 2009 (along with Carol Grieder) for their chromosomal research.
The list could go on and on. Add second generation immigrants to the list, it could go on almost forever. It is unquestionable that America has been the beneficiary of an unparalleled immigrant advantage, in terms of intellectual and human capital. For that we are thankful.