Sunday, December 23, 2007

Who's Your Daddy,

"Mommy, Where Did I Come From?"

For decades America was described as a melting pot. More recently some have described it as a mixed salad bowl. Immigrants who were once courted in this country by the inscription on the Statue of Liberty are now often looked at with scorn, disdain, and suspicion. But are things really that different now than they were at the turn of the twentieth century when millions of immigrants left poverty for the opportunities available in the U.S.?

There has always been resistance to immigration. The Indians didn't want the first wave of English immigrants who didn't want the second wave of French, who didn't want the Germans who didn't want the Eastern Europeans, who didn't want the Asians who don't want the Hispanics. What a country!

Somehow each wave of immigrants was absorbed and by the third generation the offspring of often illiterate peasants became part of the mainstream with proper grammar usage and formal education and highly placed jobs. They had one other trait - they didn't want the next wave of immigrants.

After a couple of generations children and grandchildren often see the richness of the culture becoming homogenized. Grandchildren rarely speak what had been the first language in the childhood home of their parents and they begin to ask the eternal question, "Who am I and where did I come from." That question gives rise to the search for one's roots. Hence the popularity today among many non-hyphenated Americans of genealogical research. The first generation views themselves as natives of the country from which they emigrated. The second generation considers themselves hyphenated-Americans (Italian-Americans, Croatian-Americans, Mexican Americans, etc.) and the third generation simply sees themselves as Americans, albeit with surnames that are often difficult to spell.

The search for ones ancestors can be pursued with many resources, not the least of which is the internet. One of the best resources I've found is It is moderated by Robert Jerin. If part of your heritage is Croatian or Eastern European you will find a wealth of idea interchange. If you are not of Croatian origin you will find yummy recipes and scads of interesting facts. Other ethnicities have similar websites.

Somehow the nation will get past the current immigration flap. In a couple of generations the grandchildren of those who are the targets of angst will be among our most prominent and productive citizens, just as top notch entrepreneurs, sports figures, inventors, community leaders, etc. are descended from previous generations of immigrants. That's what makes this country great.

A little blogging music maestro... How about "What's Your Name" by Don and Juan?

Dr. Forgot

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