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Miller: My immigrant story

The immigrant came to America from a country of evil. He understood on some level he needed to go, for his homeland was entering a dark time. America offered a refuge. The immigrant came with little money. The immigrant did not speak English, and had no formal schooling.

The immigrant worked at whatever work he could get. Months went by and he sent for his wife and three children to leave and come to the America. The immigrant would have preferred to live in his natal home, but terror was coming and his family was not safe. He and his wife were married there. Their oldest children were born there, but his youngest three children would be born in America. None of his children spoke English until they went to school.

President Donald Trump's policies of today would likely have kept this immigrant out, but the immigrant came under the rubric of "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

This immigrant was my immigrant, for he was my paternal grandfather. What happened to his descendants?

Their story is best told by the occupations my family had and has. One thing is very clear--like immigrants today--my grandfather and his descendants worked hard. They were dreamers, but did not know it.

Many descendants have served in the military in World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam, and some in the Peace Corps and Americorps. One cousin's husband was killed during the Korean conflict. I served in the U.S. Army.

My grandfather's two sons were farmers, and one daughter married a farmer. One daughter and her husband were florists, and one daughter married a businessman, and another daughter married U.S. Postal Service administrator.

Grandchildren and great-grandchildren and other descendants are scattered from Connecticut to California, Minnesota to Arizona, and include farmers/ranchers, teachers, a high school principal, beauticians, attorneys, an airline pilot, a concert pianist, bankers, a brewer and engineers.

Most members of my family are in business, from low-tech business in years gone by, to high-tech software companies of today, to everything in between.

Businesses include not only the private sector, but also varying levels of government enterprise. My immigrant's family includes police officers, health care practitioners like med techs, nurses and nutritionists. There are doctors of psychology and education. I am a medical doctor, as is my daughter.

People descended from my immigrant have flown B-52's, done surgery, lobbied the U.S. Congress, and been rodeo bull riders. My immigrant's family is a political amalgam of conservatives and liberals, mostly in between.

Ours is an interesting and amazing family. What is certain is that if my grandfather was not given a chance in America, I might not be here. I am glad he got the chance, and I believe that others need that chance.

Miller lives in Fargo.

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