A Holocaust survivor’s Independence Day American Dream
LOS ANGELES, July 3, 2016 — The beauty of the American tale is that it is actually 300 million smaller stories rolled into the larger picture. For my family, independence literally separated life from death.
My grandparents and my father escaped the Nazis. Everything they had was taken in the Holocaust. When they came to America in 1949, my grandfather washed dishes. He and my grandmother spent their final years living in a one-bedroom apartment. My grandfather had holes in his socks.
That Brooklyn apartment was in walking distance of Coney Island, home of the original Nathan’s. Today that Nathan’s hosts the annual hot dog eating competition. Back then it was just food. For a family who lived in the woods in Poland hiding from the Nazis, Brooklyn hot dogs and pizza were the best meals my father had eaten in years.
My father graduated college, became a schoolteacher, reached the American middle class and is now retired with my mother living in a house they own outright. Even my hardscrabble grandfather was moved when he visited the first house my parents purchased. He lit up at the bright green lawn, a full third of one acre. He saw the in-ground swimming pool with the waterslide, diving board and multi-colored Pagoda lights. His grandson had his own bedroom with his own television set. Grandpa smiled because he knew that unlike in Poland, nobody could ever take this house away from us. The Blue Atlas Cedars were our trees on our lawn in our domain.
I managed to get an MBA before becoming a vice president in the stock brokerage industry. Entrepreneurship put me on the speaking circuit that has taken me to all 50 states. Living in a beautiful area and enjoying the good life does not happen in a vacuum. I am still only half the man my grandfather was, but he had so much more to overcome.
Only in America is this dream a reality. I love this country because it has given me everything. My grandfather and father were hunted like dogs. I am free. I get misty-eyed upon hearing Lee Greenwood sing “God Bless the USA” because it rings truth.
While watching fireworks and devouring hamburgers and hot dogs, I honor and thank our Founding Fathers, our fallen soldiers, our veterans and our current soldiers.
I thank almighty God for creating this nation and the late Ray Charles for singing “America, God done shed his grace on thee.”
I thank my grandparents for risking their lives so that their children and grandchildren could reach heights that most people in this world can only imagine.
In any other nation, my story would be uncommon and heroic. My story is ordinary because America is extraordinary and exceptional.
God bless America, now and forever. Thank you America, for allowing a child of Holocaust survivors to experience what we call this American dream.