How Far We Have Come

My father’s family came to America during the 1800’s from Germany, and my mother’s family came from The United Kingdom during the same century. They were all refugees, who wanted to begin a new and better life together in “The Land of the Free.” They were poor but shared an ambitious energy to work hard and succeed. They did succeed in working, worshipping, raising families who contributed to the beauty and economy of the nation, my father and uncles also serving during WWII in the United States Navy and the United States Army until after the war. I can’t imagine how things would have been different for all of us had there been some sort of wall to block our becoming citizens of this great nation. I wouldn’t have been a school teacher here, and the gifts of my other relatives in serving this country would have been unrealized or been fulfilled instead in Germany, Ireland, and Scotland.

It frightens me that so many refugees now coming to America are often clumped together into unfair and incorrect stereotypes of  job-thieves, low-life criminals, rapists, terrorists, etc. The fear-mongering and insults about “foreigners” have been successful only in creating suspicion and terror that ignore the wider view of poor but capable, ambitious, honest people, who are not stealing our rights and privileges…but sharing them and contributing to the strength and compassion of Lady Liberty’s wide and generous embrace. The purpose of all this seems to be creating the false impression that we have a protector, who is looking after our rights as citizens of The United States of America. We need to look more carefully at that “reality” to see what motives lurk behind it. There are people like us, with the same hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children, waiting to pass through the “Golden Door.” Not all are “worthy,” but I have the feeling that most are just like us in their quest for better, safer lives that include freedoms that we too often take for granted. I have only to read again the words of Emma Lazarus (from her poem on the Statue of Liberty) to remember that we’re somehow all in this together.  JB

“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!”

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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2 Responses to How Far We Have Come

  1. Mark Teran says:

    Sent employees to New York from Brownsville, Texas – in work trucks three times in one summer in 2010. The first two trips, we showed up at the plants, disconnected, loaded and shipped machines in an efficient manner. With humility(I am the guy that goes for lunch – when I work with my employees) I say, each time we visit the US and load equipment I purchase for resale , my employees are given the highest marks for their capacities.
    On the first two trips, after them completing their work, I gave them an extra day to see what they might, in New York. After both trips, on my first visit to my office in Mexico, I was surprised to see pictures of each employee in front of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. I had never seen her!! I had flown back to my home on both occasions, opting out of a thirty-five-hour drive from New York to Brownsville, Texas.
    The third trip – I decided I would see her, I invited a potential customer and told him I would sell him the machine then invite him to Liberty Island. Sold the machine and got on the ferry!
    I had not investigated, via the net, what the trip might be like. Not having asked the security clearance, 48 hours previous, online, we were limited to walking around her, in the bright sunlight, drinking a $5,50 Coca-Cola in the heat of the summer.
    We decided to catch the ferry back and jumped onto a Ferry to Ellis Island by mistake!
    Excellent mistake – there we were welcome to the museum tour and I spent the next two hours reading everything written there!
    One lasting impression left on me was the importance I presently believe our Union’s of New York have had on a racism that perhaps initiated in New York. I’m not sure of the order of migration, which countries came first, I do remember this – After the Civil War the black-man started a strong migration to New York – a few years later, during the expansion of our railroads, the black man objected strongly to The Chinese worker.
    History repeats! This too will pass, production trumps politics!

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