Thursday, August 28, 2008

The American dream

The nomination of Barack Obama, an African-American with highly exotic roots, as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency is the most heralded example of the realization of the American dream.

On a far less dramatic level, the American dream has also been achieved in my own family. A century ago, my two sets of grandparents immigrated to this country from Poland and Belarus, both then part of the Czarist Russian empire. They came with few resources and no knowledge of English.

They fled to escape the pogroms and religious persecution that their ancestors had endured for many hundreds of years. In America they sought and found a refuge and a tolerant environment in which their children could employ their talents and fulfill their ambitions.

During the two generations that have followed my grandparents' arrival here, the family has produced two doctors (one of whom is a medical school cardiology professor), four school teachers, two artists (one of whom was also a college professor), a dentist, an art historian, a pharmaceutical chemist, a social worker, an investment banker, a Republican politician, three wartime soldiers, an Air Force career officer, a lecturer at the former Royal Iranian air force academy, a musician, several corporate executives, and this humble journalist.

For me and my relatives, the "American dream" is a magnificent reality.

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Anonymous said...

What a remarkable family you have! and they most certainly have lived the American dream. It is my hope that in the years to come your story won't be one of those special cases, but the reality for the many who seek the same dream.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:09:00 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Your grandparents certainly made the American dream come true for your family. [How did the Republican politician slip in there? ;-)]

Friday, August 29, 2008 4:19:00 AM  
Blogger Linda Hillin said...

We need to hear more of these kinds of stories during this election time. Tell it wherever you go and to anyone you can get to listen. America needs to hear this.

Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...


Do you remember Sam Levinson,the great storyteller and comedian?

He used to explain to us about the Jewish families that settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

He was very humorous and told many stories that had everyone in stitches, but, at the same time, he was telling us the way it was in those families.

The first thing that the family bought,according to Sam,was a large dining room table. That table was really all purpose. The family ate all their meals there together and the kids did all of their homework and studying at that table.

While getting the point across to us that many very successful people had grown up at that table, Sam told this story of his Mother.

In the dining room where they all spent most of their time eating or studying, there was a big window that no one had ever been able to get open. It was painted shut.
One evening as they all sat there doing their work, a burglar tried to "Jimmy" open the window. The kids got all excited and told their Mother to call the police. Mama Levinson said, "SHHH! let him get it open, I'll give him a Dollar."

Sam went on to list the successes of his brothers and sisters and your post reminded me of that wonderful man and his terrific stories.

You have a wonderful family too, Mort!

Saturday, August 30, 2008 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger Adar said...

Reading your post, I think about all the couples who are American dreaming today, for their own children and grandchildren.

I wish we could learn to honor these folks in their own time, and not just in retrospect. Every time I hear someone making fun of an immigrant's accented English, or assuming that another person is "illegal," I wonder how they could have forgotten how their family came to these shores.

Mort, reading your blog is such a pleasure! I'm glad you are still writing!

Sunday, August 31, 2008 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

A wonderful post, Mort. I was just telling a young person today how our nation was built on and by immigrants. We need to get back to that part of our history and to bring back the "American dream".
I pray that we Americans have matured up enough not to put color in front of ideals. It feels like the one big chance that we've had in years.
Your whole life story is uplifting.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 7:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Nazar said...

You certainly have a proud family heritage, although the lecturer at the former Iranian air force academy gig does seem kind of dubious...

Monday, September 08, 2008 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

There was nothing dubious about my first cousin Elissa who taught English to the students at the former Royal Iranian air force academy when the Shah was still around. I did not mean to suggest that she lectured on a subject as combative as fighter aircraft tactics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 1:44:00 AM  

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