Restoring Our Beliefs

My grandparents have told me countless stories about them immigrating to the United States when they were seventeen. Their stories taught me about how important America's values of opportunity and equality are, and they now need to be revitalized.

By Dean M. from Staples High School in Connecticut

Restoring Our Beliefs

              America is founded on the ideals of equality and opportunity. Those two things are exactly what lured people to settle here in the first place, and it’s what allowed America to grow into the country that it is today. My grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1960, and their stories taught me the importance of maintaining these ideals in a society that is beginning to lose sight of it’s American Creed. The stories of my grandparents and their immigration to America have helped shape my American Creed into one based upon equality and opportunity, two of the ideals this nation was founded upon that now need to be revitalized.

              My grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1960 from the island of Malta, and their immigration marked the start of an endless stream of opportunity and equality that they would see throughout their lives here. I interviewed them to learn more about what differences they saw when they came to America in search of prosperity, and their responses were filled with ideas about those two ideals that this nation was built upon, equality and opportunity. My grandparents are one example of the opportunity that was given to immigrants during the 1960s, and they proved that minorities can prosper in this country despite starting their lives here with practically nothing. My grandparents were born and spent their first seventeen years of life living in Malta, an island about a tenth the size of Rhode Island. When they moved to America in 1960 they represented the small 5% of the population that was foreign-born (Pew Hispanic). Despite being such a small portion of the population, my grandparents didn’t face the difficulties that many minorities face in America today. My grandmother, Josephine, described how when they moved to New York, they felt welcomed by those around her and how they never had any lack of work. My grandfather, a carpenter, was able to easily find work and provide for his wife, and within a few years, three children as well. My grandmother described how “having an equal opportunity is what allowed [them] to be successful and find a home in America” (Farrugia). I have heard this same story countless times from my grandma, and she never fails to mention how welcoming everyone around them was when they first arrived in the United States. This obviously was the foundation that grew and developed my American Creed. Hearing countless times how the people of this country gave my grandparents a place to call home began to teach me about the importance of the opportunity and equality that America is built upon. These are the two most important pieces of our society, and they remain just as necessary to society today.

              Being so exposed to the stories of my grandparents’ immigration, I quickly began to see the differences between their experiences with our American ideals and the experiences of immigrants today. Everyone knows that this country is based upon freedom, equality, opportunity, and all that jazz; however, those ideals are not something that we are actually following and promoting in our society today. Unlike my grandparents, many immigrants today are being met with racism and the exact opposite of what my grandparents saw. That inequality is more prevalent than ever, with “41% of U.S.-born Americans described immigrants as a burden on the country, taking away jobs, housing, and health care” in 2015 (American Psychological Association). This number is pretty crazy, with almost half of Americans showing a dislike towards the type of people that this nation was built by and built for. This is not at all what my grandparents experienced, and the difference in attitude towards immigrants has shifted drastically over the last half-century. Considering how many Americans share this anti-immigrant view, there is no way we can say that we still maintain the equality and prosperity for all that this nation was built on. The sharp differences between the equality shown to my grandparents and the inequality that Americans showcase to immigrants today present a need to revitalize the ideals this nation holds so dear. This lack of equality and opportunity for immigrants in society today is exactly what needs to be fixed in order to restore the heart of my American Creed.

             My grandparents taught me from a young age the importance of equality and opportunity for anyone to succeed in America, and these two American ideals need to be revitalized today. My grandparents were fortunate enough to experience exactly what the American Creed, in my eyes, is all about. Equality and opportunity are something all members of this nation deserve, and it can be saved so long as Americans remember what this nation is built on. My grandparents taught me about the importance of our American Creed, but not everyone has the same family background that I have. Our American Creed is beginning to fail, but we can save it so long as we don’t lose focus of what’s important to this nation.

                                            

Works Cited

Farrugia, Josephine. Personal Interview. 20 May 2019.

Radford, Jynnah, and Luis Noe-Bustamante. “Immigrants in America: Key Charts and Facts.” Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project, Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project, 3 June 2019, www.pewhispanic.org/2018/09/14/facts-on-u-s-immigrants/#fb-key-charts-population.

“Understanding Attitudes toward Recent Arrivals to the United States.” American Psychological Association, APA, www.apa.org/advocacy/immigration/prejudice-facts.pdf.

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