I just read a story about a family who fled their homeland to come to America. They left because, in their country, boys as young as 7 years of age are recruited to be child soldiers and their oldest son was about to have his seventh birthday. I can’t imagine a 7-year-old child becoming a soldier, and I can’t comprehend what it would be like to leave everything behind and start over in a foreign land.
Just down the road from me is the Bowling Green International Center, which assists refugees from many different nations. On the home page of their Web site is an excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus, which says in part, “…send these, the homeless tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Not just any door, but a golden door to the land of opportunity.
Several months ago, an Asian family moved to our community and opened their own business. Some of them speak English, but many of them are still learning. They work long hours and their children go straight from school to the family business. Everyone pitches in and they are open seven days a week. I know very few American teenagers (or adults) who work harder or longer hours than they do. I admire their energy and their courage, and I am proud to call them friends and neighbors.
What is it that motivates immigrants to work harder and longer hours than many of us who are born and raised here? My grandmother was fond of saying, “You never miss the water until the well runs dry.” Most of us (not all) have always had water in our well. We have never had to do without the basics—food, water, and a roof over our heads. Often the desire to succeed comes from living in a place that doesn’t afford the freedoms or opportunities this country does.
It doesn’t matter if we are fourth-generation Kentuckians or if we have climbed mountains and crossed oceans to get here, America is still a place where dreams can and do come true.
God bless the USA!