Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

a

9

greatest opportunities for the development of the higher potentialities of all men. We need to develop the same high sense of personal responsibility which led the early American statesman, George Mason, to write: “The debts we owe our ancestors we should repay by handing down entire those sacred rights to which we ourselves were born." We need, finally, to devote our full intelligence and greatest efforts to the task of devising ways and means whereby those essential values can be given their most complete expression in a world of flux and change. EARL WARREN, Fourteenth Chief Justice of the United States

Through changing times and the increasing tempo of our existence, our Constitution has provided a living, flexible framework for the continued advancement of our ideals of government. Its influence has extended far beyond the boundaries of our own country. It has become a symbol for freedom-loving peoples everywhere.

There are those among our newly naturalized citizens who have particular reason to be appreciative of American citizenship because they have come from lands where people have never known such freedoms. We who have grown to maturity enjoying freedom in the true American sense can draw a lesson from these people—a lesson that should make each and everyone of us more determined to protect the constitutional guarantee on which our freedom depends.

*

* *

[ocr errors][merged small]

Chapter 4

Statements by

FOREIGN-BORN AMERICANS

2

ANGELO PATRI, native land, Italy?

I came to America many years ago. I came from a little village across the sea. I can still see it, the hills, the brook, the mill, the monastery. I remember the steamer and the ocean, water, wind, waves for days and days and the new, strange, far away country that was to be my home.

I remember finding my way to school, an American school. That was where my life in the new country began. I sat and listened and tried to learn. My teachers said I should. I heard the teachers talk of America, of the Declaration of Independence, of Patrick Henry, of Washington and Franklin and Jefferson and Lincoln.

I thought of Washington, not as he was at Mount Vernon, but, as he was at Valley Forge, in his hut with the ragged soldiers of the war.

I thought of Lincoln as a boy in his log cabin, studying by the light of the fire.

"These are truly Americans," I said to myself, and I felt that all Americans were like them, and I made up my mind to hurry and be a man. I too wanted to belong. I too wanted to feel the strength and the great love of the children of Washington and Lincoln.

And it happened to me, as it did to thousands of foreign born, that after many years I was graduated from an American school and then from an American college. I became a teacher, an American teacher, in an American public school. I belonged. I felt the strength of children about me, and I was proud to be among them. In time I became a principal of an American public school. To it came, by and by, visitors from far and wide, from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America. They came searching the spirit that had made America great. Each time they came they smiled as they said, “There is something here in the life of your children that makes one think of Washington and Lincoln," and my heart would throb“My Country 'Tis of Thee I Sing.”

* Excerpts from scripts used in broadcasts put on by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States in cooperation with the National Broadcasting Company the latter part of 1940 and the early part of 1941, and from other sources. *Greetings to Third National Conference on Citizenship, 1948.

[ocr errors]

*

*

My proudest boast is that I am a citizen of the United States of America, that I, like all of you, belong. DR. WALTER DAMROSCH, native land, Germany

* * * Music is the one great international language, and if through music we can create a feeling of universal brotherhood, isn't this just another way to express the ideal of Democracy? And that's what being an American means. Here we do not stop to ask a man what his racial antecedents may be German, French, Italian, Norwegian, English-He is still an American. And so, if a man has a soul for music and learns to love it culturally, his nationality will not matter. United States Senator JAMES J. Davis, native land, Wales

America is my home, my country. Here I have found opportunity for self-improvement, inspiration for high attainment, courage to do the impossible. All that I am and have belongs to my country. I want to give her strength of arms, clearness of vision, warmth of heart, and the will to go on. The man without a country is a man without a destiny. The man who is true to his country understands the heartbeat of all men. This is our country. May we always cherish and honor, fortify and defend her, and forgetting our differences of the moment let us work together on the areas of our common obligations and unity. In the spirit of good will we shall stand united for victory. MAJOR ALEXANDER DE SEVERSKY, native land, U.S.S.R.

* The strength of our nation lies in its diversity of people; in the marvelous way that they have adjusted themselves one to another, into a perfect mosaic. That mosaic is cemented by mutual respect, mutual tolerance, a desire to recognize the virtues and talents of individuals without regard to their origins. But by the same token, the most vulnerable phase of American life is in that very mosaic. That is where we can be attackedby driving a wedge between groups, by making artificial distinctions between first-generation and second-generation Americans, between nativeborn and naturalized. Those who raise such false issues are boring into the very foundations upon which our great nation is built. GEORGE J. CHRYSSIKOS, address to new citizens

Even a good America can become a better America. And this is precisely the job of young men and young women. Let us not forget also that goodness in this imperfect and ever-evolving world of ours is always found mixed with evil. It is the job of every succeeding American generation to weed out evil from the field of American goodness and to leave the positive elements of the character of this country in a purer and nobler form.

PROF. ALBERT EINSTEIN, native land, Germany

Making allowances for human imperfections, I do feel that in America the most valuable thing in life is possible, the development of the individual and his creative powers. There may be men who can live without political rights and without opportunity of free individual development. But I think that this is intolerable for most Americans. Here, for generations, men have never been under the humiliating necessity of unquestioning obedience. Here human dignity has been developed to such a point that it would be impossible for people to endure life under a system in which the individual is only a slave of the state and has no voice in his government and decision

of life.

no

on

his own way

ELISSA LANDI, native land, Austria

* * * I said to myself, what an amazing country. Everyone seems to take a real interest in everyone else. That, after all, is Democracy. One thing I'll never forget: When I went to get my final citizenship papers—it was a beautiful experience—there were 400 of my co-applicants standing in line and later crowded together in a large room.

One little old woman seemed very frightened, on the verge of tears. An official went over to her and patted her on the shoulder and said, “Now, now, mother—take it easy. Nothing to be scared about.” And this was to be my country! Imagine a European official comforting an immigrant! DR. ZOLTAN JOHN FARKAS, native land, Hungary

After our arrival here we very soon realized that the U. S. A. is really a wonderland: It is the first one among the few countries in the world where liberty, justice, democracy, and happiness are not only not empty slogans, but real benefits for all; where the Constitution is still as valid as it was in those days when the people of the U. S. A. ordained and established it in order to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity. It was just natural that our next wish could not be other than to become a citizen of this wonderful country.

And now, a few minutes after we solemnly pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States, we have just one more wish, that may God give us a long life, and ability to help at our very best in holding this flag straight up, flying as free and clear forever as it has been doing from the beginning of this country. WILLIAM KNUDSEN, native land, Denmark

*** Only Democracy gives a man the opportunity to make as much or as little of himself as he wishes. That's the difference in my mind between Democracy and Totalitarianism, the difference between centralization and decentralization, the State and the individual. My own mental picture of

« ÎnapoiContinuați »