"Thanksgiving," Doris Lee, 1935, shamelessly pinched from Alberti's Window.
A good day to read one of my favorite essays: Peter Schramm's Born American, but in the Wrong Place.
Now, with the revolution failing, came the final straw for my Dad. On one of his trips out to secure some bread, a hand grenade landed next to him but, miraculously, it did not go off. The spark that should have set off that grenade set off my father instead. He came home and announced to my mother that that was it. He said he was going to leave the country whether she would come or not. Mom said, “O.K., William. We will come if Peter agrees. Ask Peter.”And Melanie Kirkpatrick reports on the controversy over the first Thanksgiving proclamation.
My mother tells me, though I don’t remember saying this, that I told my father I would follow him to hell if he asked it of me. Fortunately for my eager spirit, hell was exactly what we were trying to escape and the opposite of what my father sought.
“But where are we going?” I asked.
“We are going to America,” my father said.
“Why America?” I prodded.
“Because, son. We were born Americans, but in the wrong place,” he replied.
My father said that as naturally as if I had asked him what was the color of the sky. It was so obvious to him why we should head for America. There was really no other option in his mind. What was obvious to him, unfortunately, took me nearly 20 years to learn. But then, I had to “un-learn” a lot of things along the way. How is it that this simple man who had none of the benefits or luxuries of freedom and so-called “education” understood this truth so deeply and so purely and expressed it so beautifully?
Update: Schramm link fixed.