To the Editor:
Eight months ago, I stood in front of Delta Company 219 at Ft. Benning, Ga., with tears in my eyes as I said goodbye to my basic training company. I had enlisted into the Army’s 18X program, intent on making a career of serving our country in some of the world’s more unforgiving corners, but after just three months, multiple injuries to my legs had resulted in an unanticipated discharge.
I had enlisted for many reasons, but my primary motivator was that I believed – and continue to believe – in the ideals upon which this country was founded: religious freedom, political liberty, economic independence and the freedom for an individual to take risks to improve their lot in life and that of their family.
Before my enlistment, I had lived and worked in several developing countries, and I had witnessed first-hand that people everywhere aspire to those same ideals. There are many places, however, where oppressive regimes, religious persecution, poverty and ethnic strife threaten people’s livelihoods, or even their very lives.
Many of these people flock – or would flock – to our country, seeking protection and prosperity. These immigrants and refugees improve our social fabric, provide healthy diversity in our neighborhoods, keep our economy running and remind us every day that our nation is an immigrant nation. At times, both we, as citizens, and our legislators forget the simple fact that while we may have been born here, someone in our family’s past was not. They, too, were immigrants, and while their road may not have been smooth, they were eventually welcomed into our society and became productive, prosperous citizens.
So, as we sit down to enjoy our dinners with our families this Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for all of the opportunities that we have been blessed with, simply by being born in the United States. Let us also be grateful that someone in our family’s history took a risk and immigrated to this land of opportunity. And let us never cease to be a shining beacon on a hill for all of those around the world who seek life, liberty and happiness.
North Aurora resident and specialist with World Relief DuPage/Aurora