To the editor,
Like so many before him, my father arrived in America in the early 1960’s in search of a better life. He had little money, no formal education, no connections or savings. What he did have was an unrelenting work ethic, a profound sense of right and wrong and a strong belief that, in America, if you worked hard and played by the rules you could get ahead. You could improve your “lot” in life and see, in your lifetime, your children succeed. He did not fully understand what it meant to live in a democratic republic but he did know, intuitively, that in America he could chart his own destiny, seize opportunity and create a life for his children full of possibilities. His living example in my life provided the blueprint that imparted the values I carry with me. One of the most enduring values he taught, by example, was to never give up. Never.
When we did not have enough money to pay the bills, which occurred often, my dad refused to give in. He picked up extra shifts, took a second job, worked weekends — whatever it took, he did it. When my mom was sick, which happened more then I care to remember, my dad picked up the slack — doing laundry, cooking, cleaning the house, driving us to school — he never gave up.
My father is not unique. Millions of people who came to America before and after him share the same fighting spirit. The conviction that their family is worth fighting for and that they are determined to leave them better off than when they started. That their sacrifice is worth it and will endure.
That same spirit propelled pilgrims across a vast ocean in 1620 despite incredible hardship. It filled the hearts of a nascent nation to declare their independence from a despot. Through an awful, blood-drenched civil war that severely tested our resolve we endured. Through two world wars and social movements that forced us to confront the disconnect between our ideals and our reality we never gave up.
Today, we face a once-in-a-century pandemic and division not seen in a generation. Millions are struggling to put food on the table and have lost their jobs or businesses. We are separated and isolated from our loved ones, hundreds of thousands have died from COVID and our democracy has been strained to the point of fracture by rogue former President Donald Trump and his enablers.
Nevertheless, like my father who never gave up on his family I know we, the United States of America, will never give up on our American family. We will take a deep collective breath then we will do what generations of Americans have done before: we will get to work. We will recommit ourselves to forming a more perfect union. The vaccines will be distributed to hundreds of millions, our economy will come roaring back, schools will re-open, more opportunities will present themselves for more Americans than ever before.
We will do this because we are Americans. We never give up.
God. Bless. America.
The writer is a Democrat state senator representing the 17th Senate District.