Giving Thanks
November 24, 2004 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Here's what Thanksgiving means to one American whose life-story models some of what is best about this nation. I'm sure there are other, similar stories on the web. This one spoke to me, so I share it with you.
posted by mmahaffie (8 comments total)
Thanks for this, mmahaffie. My cynical self needs reminders like this one about the things we spoiled Americans often take for granted.
posted by Hobgoblin at 7:05 AM on November 24, 2004

From the final paragraph: I have opposed some proposed amendments to that Constitution. But now one is being proposed in California that would make me eligible to run for president, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. I appreciate the thought, but I must turn down the offer.

Seems a little dubious about the move afoot to make Arnie pres. in 2012. Heh. (not that I necessarily want to turn this thread political-- think of the pancakes... please)

The story of those who survived is always worth remembering. Victor Klemperer provided an excellent first-hand account of the tribulations of those attempting to emigrate-- alas, he dawdled, and got stuck in Dresden for the duration. One of 100 or so to survive. Jarring reading.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:18 AM on November 24, 2004

I second the recommendation of the Klemperer book. It's both a stunning historical document and a cautionary tale about the slow creep of fascism that, perhaps, needs to be read more widely right about now.
posted by muckster at 9:26 AM on November 24, 2004

I third the Klemperer book, an incredible document about life in the Third Reich from the point of view of a single jewish man, married to an "aryan". Plus, as a professor of languages, he makes many observations about the linguistic manipulations of the Nazis.

In relation to the original post, while heartwarming, what was the general record of the USA in relation to Jewish refugees? I know that Canada was very unwelcoming prior to, and in the early days of, World War II, a black historical fact documented in the excellent book None is Too Many.
posted by Rumple at 4:14 PM on November 24, 2004

what was the general record of the USA in relation to Jewish refugees?

Not great, I think, Rumple. And I read echoes of that in Themal's column. I was struck by his "we made it, in spite of" story.

And, in the back of my mind... "there, but for the grace of God, maybe someday soon, go I."
posted by mmahaffie at 7:20 PM on November 24, 2004

Plus, as a professor of languages, he makes many observations about the linguistic manipulations of the Nazis.

That was an interesting aspect to the book, and it helped me develop a keener eye for subtle misrepresentation in political speech. A handy skill in these Rovian times.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:27 PM on November 24, 2004

Canada has certainly made an effort to privilege immigrants who have a lot of money, each of whom takes the place of a real refugee. I find that very depressing.

Everyone has a refugee success story; mine is the Vietnamese guy who cleans my office and lab each day. He was a boat person, spent two months in an open boat to get to Hong Kong, had his first child die in his arms en-route, and got almost randomly selected to be sponsored to Canada by a church group. Since then he's had seven more children, including twin daughters now at the Mayo clinic, another son who's doctor, and a son who's a lawyer.

Everytime I spend two bucks on a coffee I think of what this guy has done on janitor's wages. Why do the globalization mavens always want free movement of capital but not free movement of labour? Let them all come, they won't all come, those that do, will make us a better society.
posted by Rumple at 10:06 PM on November 24, 2004

This man's story would be trumpeted by all who love this country. While the situations can be different by the order of several degrees, it makes you think about those who would restrict refugees from today's warzones to their country. Recent history is unfortunatelt replete with tales of those who are deemed inelegible to emigrate.
posted by cell divide at 11:07 PM on November 24, 2004

« Older A bit of the ol' ultra-violence   |   We like the music, we like the disco sound Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments