These ancestors fought in the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and World War II. They were hard-working and had land in Virginia and the one who fought in the War of 1812 was given more land. He lost an arm. Two lost their lives in the Civil War: one from disease and the other from wounds suffered. They fought on the southern side of the conflict but their descendants went on to defend the United States in future wars. My Mom's uncle lost an arm in World War II.
My father's side were one of the millions who believed in the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
My grandfather was ten when his Dad grew tired of the endless pogroms in the Pale of the Settlement. These roots can be traced to the early 1700's in Tulchin. My grandfather lied about his age in order to join the fledgling US Air Corps in 1916. He grew disenchanted when his duties consisted of sewing the canvas that the wings were made of. His father had a grocery store in Chicago. My grandfather built up a construction company. He married my grandmother. She served as a secretary to Adlai Stevens father. My grandfather and his brothers and sisters all worked hard in this country and quickly established means of living in this land of opportunity.
My family's story is just one of millions. It is these stories which shed light on what makes the United States unique. It is the freedoms which we defend so fiercely that make us unique. We have no established religion such as the Church of England. We have the right to mock, belittle, and criticize our government leaders without fear of prosecution. We hold peaceful transfers of power in elections that are representative of the people. We have the right to bear arms and to defend ourselves. We even have the built in right of dissolving our Constitution and forming a new form of government. We are not prefect but the world has yet to see a more prefect form of government. We must guard our cherished rights and allow those who disagree with the direction our country is taking to be able to voice their opinion. We must not limit our right to freedom of speech in a misguided effort not to offend. We have been given the freedom "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
There are some injustices currently that need to be addressed. In a misguided effort to stop the flow of drugs, police were given unreasonable means of seizure. Without a trial, a person can now have his money, his home, his car, and other property seized under the suspicion of drug possession and trafficking.
In a misguided effort to protect our children, people are now being prosecuted for unknowingly downloading child pornography. Others are the victims of gross injustice because of the no-knock ruling. Now, we have reports of computers and other electronic devices being seized by TSA.
The men who read aloud the Declaration of Independence 232 years ago did not fear the repercussions of their audacity. We should not let fear today erode our freedoms.