The homelands of my grandsons' forebears
My 12-year old grandson was recently taken by his school to Ellis Island as part of a lesson about immigration. The visit stimulated his interest in his forebears' countries of origin. Few of his classmates' ancestors are likely to have so many different homelands as those of my grandson and his two brothers.
Their paternal side shows the most varied ancestral background. My wife's mother was born in Lithuania. Her father was born in Ireland, the son of immigrants from Latvia. My mother was born in what is now Belarus, my father in Poland. Excluding Ireland, each of these countries was a part of the Czarist Russian empire at the time of their births, but each possessed a separate and distinct language and culture.
On my grandsons' maternal side, both grandparents were born in China, their grandmother in Nanjing and their grandfather in Beijing. After the Communist takeover, both their families fled to Taiwan, where my daughter-in-law was born.
All of my grandsons' foreign-born forebears quickly integrated into American society, contributing new cultural elements that make the U.S. the unique and powerful nation that it is.