In the summer of 1955, my grandfather, grandmother, my mother and uncle, left behind their family in Germany in search of a better life in America. My mother was barely three years old. The family was sponsored by a Southern California Lutheran Church, that helped them get an apartment, some furniture, and employment.
They immersed themselves in American culture, not speaking much German, as my grandparents believed that they were now in America, and they should learn English. That they did. Until the day she died, my grandmother would get frustrated when immigrants here in Orange County, where the culture is very diverse, didn't speak English. She would say, "I had to learn English, so should they!"
I recently came across an old suitcase in my attic. It is one of the few items we have left that made the nearly 6000 mile journey from Europe to America. I thought it was a fair representation for what America stands for, the place where everyone has the right to come and pursue their dreams. For my family, those dreams became a reality in 1955.
What does America mean to you?