Thanksgiving message 2009

Members and friends

Being thankful for what I have has never been a reach for me. There are so many aspects of my life that I can appreciate. The negative things, occurrences, and people are some how swept out of my life either by my selective memory or by active dismissal.

What fascinates me are the positives. One of those positive aspects of my life is the diversity of the people I meet. Diversity of ethnicity is something that we can embrace. I said once before the Americans are not like any other people on the earth. We are a new tribe. Even if we never married outside of our own ethnic group we become a little different by being in this same environment with so many other groups.
 
Soldiers in WWII did not relate to the people of the country they were in as well as they did their fellow soldiers even when the country they were in was their same ethnic origin, and the soldiers they were with were of very different origins.

The present preoccupation some people have with current immigrants is disturbing, but certainly not new. We have always had an immigrant underclass in this country and they were always “trouble and pretty unredeemable.” There were once signs outside of places of employment reading NINA. That stood for “no Irish need apply” Somehow we suffered through that rough group. We even elected one president. And then there were the Italians, and the Jews and the Poles, and the Russians, and so many other rascal groups with strange sounding names (not that we didn’t change a few of those names as they came through Ellis Island because the inspector couldn’t pronounce the one the immigrant came in with.)

So where did all these suspect people go?  Well, they started businesses, they became cops, lawyers, physicists, carpenters, and they ran for elected office. They in short became undistinguishable from the rest of the people; except for the way they distinguished themselves with their achievements. Today it is new immigrant groups whose lot it is to run the gauntlet, But not to worry, they will do well. So many of them already have done well.

Yes, I am thankful for the presence of all of them. Where would American music be without the influence of the African-Americans among us? The Irish often distinguished themselves with their literature. The Italians love their opera, and architecture. The French, the Germans, the Poles, the Jews, the Greeks, the Chinese, and all the other ethic peoples that have come to our shores have painted on that great canvas we call America. I think that picture they have made is quite beautiful.  

Each culture as it assimilates and becomes what we know as Americans enrich our lives in ways that are not experienced in any other land. In most places in the world the people are fairly homogeneous. In America there is an endless variety of people, and I say “viva la difference.”  Happy Thanksgiving!

Ernie Fazio

 

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