The Norman Transcript

Columns

July 23, 2013

A child of liberty

NORMAN — Americans born within the states become used to hearing about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Immigrants learn of these as they embrace liberty.

Soldiers are among those remembering that nearly all immigrants came to America to escape threats to their lives.

Early settlers escaped those who would cheat them of religious liberty.

“My great-grandparents came through Ellis Island,” an admirer of the Statue of Liberty tells his grandchildren. “A French artist made that statue for America many years ago. See the lamp? It means we still welcome people like your great-great-grandparents.”

“What did your family bring with them?” his curious granddaughter says. “Did they bring jewels and axes to trade with the Natives, like the early explorers?”

“Oh, no, not at all,” he answers quickly. “Mine were quite poor and had to pack lightly to ship over to New York harbor. Some in the same ship carried jewelry worth a lot. They all came to America to escape being tortured and killed or to worship freely. I guess they soon found out how hard it was to earn a living in the new country. My father told me his family never complained. They sold special breads and other foods. There’s a lot you need to learn about your early ancestors.”

“OK. Right after ice cream, Grandpa?” the youngest says.

One grandmother knew that an Italian couple came over to escape World War II. She told her grandkids a little about them as they made cookies.

“They couldn’t speak nor read English because they hadn’t time to learn before the Italian government collapsed. They came on a freighter. The Italian dictator was looking to throw them in prison. I couldn’t help shuddering as they spoke of relatives who couldn’t escape.”

“Why?” the grandson says.

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