A New Yorker
Those were the last words my Nonno (grandpa) spoke to me before he died. In English it means “Pay attention,” or more generally speaking “Be careful.” Those two words were spoken in a rare moment of lucidity from a man near the end of a very long lifespan. But there was a lot of living in those 87 years. If the goal of the Electorate Project is to understand the voters then first we must look at my family.
My grandparents came to this country from Italy with only one goal: to build a better life for their children and grandchildren. They succeeded. Despite all odds, despite knowing little English, despite having to work for pennies on the dollar, they succeeded. My mom became a successful stock broker, and my dad a well-respected project manager for Verizon until he retired. When they had me, my parents made that same promise that my grandparents did.
Because of them I am writing this as a Mechanical Engineer with a commissioning in the US Army as an Officer, with a novel on the way. Because of them I have made that same promise to my future children. This is the legacy I carry with me at all times, this is the immigrant mentality that I inherited from my family, this is why I am proud of my Italian heritage.
This is why my heart broke at this election.
There are many stories like mine, some from Italy, and many from other countries. You see, our country was founded by immigrants. People that traveled to a new world to escape their old one and build a better life for their families. My sadness comes from the fact that because of this election those stories might cease to be.
Immigrant has become such a heavy word now, used to discriminate those who weren’t born here or from families who weren’t. The fact is though, aside from the Native Americans, our families are all immigrants. From my perspective, people seem to have forgotten that, and because of it, minorities are now afraid to either come to our country or afraid to speak out about their heritage. That’s not the country my grandparents came to.
Despite all this I know we will pull though. The America my grandparents came to, the America I fight for, is bigger than any one president. These are dark days ahead for recently immigrated citizens and minorities as a whole, but we can still strive to be that same America that my grandparents saw as a beacon of hope for their future generations. It’s going to take a lot of work but we can do it. To quote Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette from Hamilton.
“Immigrants, we get the job done!”