As my brother-in-law was recovering from major surgery, I often sat with family and friends in the hospital waiting room. On one particular evening I was fortunate to sit with Francis’ father, Tony. We sat and shared small talk at first, enjoying each others company, then the conversation drifted toward a subject I became totally fascinated with; a first hand account of his families immigration to America.
Today immigration has been politicized because of differing views on what should be done with our boarders. Yet as I listened to Tony, I could’t help but think of those I know who are either first generation American, sons/daughters of immigrants, or are currently working on receiving permanent visas. I felt gratitude for families who have chosen to come to our country, bringing with them a rich heritage and family values.
I realized that a young nation such as ours is filled with similar stories all needing to be shared. My brother-in-law was born in Samoa and moved to the United States with his family as a young man. As Tony shared with me their story, I could’t help but feel intense gratitude that this family elected to move here. Not only because their move brought Francis into our family, but because of the extraordinary familial bonds that are exhibited by this family; an example to all of us.
Francis has 12 brothers and sisters, nearly all married with children. When they converged on the waiting room it was game over for any other visitor as we often had 50 or more people on hand. Each individual humbly praying in their own way to see that health would be restored to our loved one. We would regularly hear from other visitors how impressed they were at the commitment shown to Francis.
Tony told me about his growing up on the island and of the customs of their people. He shared with me details of life in Samoa and why they had wanted to come to America. I realized in our conversation that Tony enjoys an intense faith, carries a deep love for his children and holds pride for what they have done and will yet do. He expressed his personal feelings about each child, sighting their strengths and how he felt they would make a mark on this world.
As we finished our conversation, I felt humbled that I had been with the man who has, with his equally amazing spouse, lead this group who is now an “All American” family. Yes, as with any relatives there were jabs of teasing and an occasional interruption from being tired. But all in all, this families bond is one that will allow for the success of each individual and be a foundation our country will continue to build on.
If you don’t know about your heritage; learn about it. You will gain strength by understanding the ideals of your forefathers. If you have personal experiences; share them. Others will grow from your energy and enthusiasm. For those who are creating their own personal history today; never give up. It is worth the sacrifice. You will make a difference as proven by those who have tread before you.
Thank you Tony, and thanks to all who carry with them their traditions. You are an example to all. Carry your legacy with pride. It is our rich mixed history our country is built on.