Monday, July 4, 2011

A Better Life

"I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons now have four wifes of different nations. He is an American,who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.... The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must thefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions."

Letters from an American Farmer

Borrowed from a friend of mine, the above quote makes me think of my great-grandfather. He boarded a ship, the Waesland, in February 1892 at the age of 18, to come to America, looking for a better life. He brought some family members over, and went back once to visit when he was about 50, as far as I can tell. But each July 4th, I think of Great-grandpa Kellen and what he did. Were it not for the courage of men and women generations before him, there would be no "better life". Were it not for his courage, I would not be here. Leave home at 18 with the idea that you most likely would not ever see your family again, and also you might not even survive the trip across the ocean. It is unthinkable, and maybe even unimaginable, to many.

Happy Independence Day! Thank you, Great-grandpa for having the courage to build a new life, thank you to my father, father-in-law, nephew, and family friends who served or currently serve in the military to preserve those freedoms. Having now traveled internationally a small bit, those freedoms are so beautiful and precious.

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