The American Dream!

Just what is the American Dream these days? I heard a young man on television talk about fulfilling the American dream. He spoke of a father who gave up everything to come to America so that his son could experience the American dream.

To that young man the American dream meant learning the American language(English) – he was an eloquent speaker. It meant having a chance to do things that he never could have done in his home country. It meant living for Christ – something that was forbidden in his home country.

He spoke of giving back since he was so fortunate. He was working with a charity for underprivileged children to give them support and love. He was an athlete, not a star mind you, but just an athlete who was playing a game that he loved and getting an education. That education was a priority for him. He hoped to take his education and make good use of it in the future.

Yes, this sounded like the American dream that I grew up with, but is it the American dream of today. I think not. The immigrants of today want the U. S. to change to adapt to their ways. They do not want religious freedom they want the religious community to change to make room for their beliefs. They want to kneel during the pledge of allegiance. They want to take out their frustrations on the citizenry of the U. S. They want to do all they could do in their country as well as what is allowed in the U. S. They do not equality, they want special privileges. They want to be taught in their native language. Please note here the ever- expanding services that are offered in Spanish. You automatically get the option of hearing the message in Spanish.

While I sympathize with those who do not speak English, children years ago of immigrants learned English in school. They may have spoken in their native tongue at home to converse with their parents, but they learned English and were proud to speak their new language.

I remember having a young man in my classroom who only spoke Swedish. He did not want me to teach him in Swedish, he wanted to learn English and he did. He listened to everything. He practiced the way to make all of the letters as I demonstrated for the class the correct position of the tongue to create the sounds. He was interested in the American way. I also had another girl who earned her citizenship while she was in my class. What a proud day it was for her! She was so excited to become an American citizen. I allowed her to share with the class about the ceremony that she participated in.

A news reporter from Canada told about a group of immigrants who wanted the menus in the schools to change to accommodate their religious beliefs. They were simply told that the menus would remain the same. They could adapt as they saw fit. Maybe the U. S. needs to be more like this. If we did would we get the old pattern of immigration and citizenship back?

We in the U. S. have so much to be thankful for. I read with interest an article in a newspaper about the role that religion plays on peace of mind. Those who attended church had a greater peace of mind than those who did not – even if their attendance was sporadic. They lived longer and more productive lives. They were more at peace with themselves and their surroundings. This certainly sounded like an endorsement of the religious community although it was not conducted by the religious community.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Think long and hard about what you are thankful for. What really matters in your life? Traditions come and go. When a new family is created many traditions change to accommodate the partnership. Families split time between the families if possible – celebrating the holiday with one family one year and the other family the following year.

As I gather family and friends around my table I will most certainly offer thanks. We usually use a prayer written by Grandpa Pete. Now Grandpa Pete was gone before I ever entered the family but this blessing reminds us of those who came before us. It has been taught to the children and the grandchildren. The spouses are also expected to participate. I learned the prayer shortly after entering the family. It is a comfort to know that the relatives will probably all share the same prayer on Thanksgiving Day. It is our point of connection as a family.

Personally, I have much to be thankful for. I am healthy and reasonably happy. I have a roof over my head – although it needed redoing this year. I have food on my table, plenty of friends, a loving family, and a faith that sustains through all adversity. My live would be shallow if not for my faith. The assurance that God is always with me – even during times of adversity – makes my life so much richer and so much more at peace.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. It is time to count your blessings – count them one by one and see what God has done, for you.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at