Thursday, September 11, 2008

Grateful To Vote

Ever year on the anniversary of September 11th, I won't turn on the television; I will not read the newspapers. Today the princess and I choose to watch a marathon of the Disney movie "Enchanted." Cuddled up on the couch, wrapped in homemade quits and eating popcorn, we watch Giselle plummet into "a place where there are no happy endings," Manhattan, New York.

Despite my effort to shield myself, I end up reflecting on this line in the movie, and how my perception of the world changed seven years ago. The princess in the movie makes Manhattan a better place, although the harshness of reality changes her somewhat. We can all do our part to spread hope and peace. Our country is still wonderful because of its spirited, brave citizens. Many Americans are descended from immigrants who were enchanted by the prospect of a better life in the United States, and that dream was not a fairytale.

For one young woman who left Naples, Italy on a ship to New York in 1920, a better future became a reality. Her widowed mother had gone before her to work in a coat factory in Manhattan. She sent her daughter money for the trip. The young woman arrived in New York with nothing but the clothes on her back and an address in her pocket. She was only fifteen and spoke no English at all, but she was determined to be an American citizen.

"When I saw the Statue (of Liberty) as my ship came into New York, I knew I wanted to be here, and I was proud to finally say, I am an American. " The young woman, now old, told this story many times in broken English, to another little girl, who listened, wide-eyed. This woman was my great-grandmother, and I was the little pair of ears.

Today I think of her often, and in November I'll VOTE because I'm proud of her bravery and determination. I want the best for my children, this country and the world. I am the living culmination of this young woman's dream: an educated, self-sufficient woman, a mother and wife, an American. It's a lot to be grateful for. This is why I exercise my right to vote.

From the movie "Enchanted":
Giselle: "Why are you staring at me?"
Robert: "I don't know. It's just that... it's like you escaped from a Hallmark card or something." Giselle: "Is that a bad thing?"

*Picture of Statue of Liberty by Cricechen on Flickr

1 comment:

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

That familial bond that starts with sharing personal stories like this is truly one to nourish. Your great-grandmother would be so proud of you!

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