As many of you might already know, my family and my husband's family are immigrants.
My father was born in Holland, my mom in Colombia, my younger sister in Panama,
and my brother and I were born in Guatemala.
My parents, brother, sister, and myself came to the United States on November 1967.
I was only seven years old.
We came from Guatemala City, Guatemala to Chicago, Illinois via Miami, Florida.
When we arrived to Chicago, it was snowing. That was the very first time
I had ever seen snow. I asked my dad what that was and he told me it was snow.
My father knew how to speak English fluently but my mom, siblings and myself did not.
My first grade teacher was Miss Wolski. She was great!
There was no bilingual program at that time, which I'm very grateful for.
My mom tells me that I learned how to read, write, and speak English in one month!
She told me that I had a deep desire to learn.
My husband's family came from Cuba. They came to the United States in 1969.
He was only nine years old.
Cuba is a communist country and his family were not members of the Communist Party.
His dad was punished for that by making him work in the sugar cane fields.
You see, he used to be the manager of a sugar cane factory, and so, he was demoted.
He only got to see his family once a month.
They went through a lot of struggles to make it to this country.
Once they were given permission to leave, they arrived to Miami, Florida
and from there went to New York City. Things did not go well there,
so their friends from Chicago contacted them and offered their home and help.
They took the Greyhound bus and arrived in Chicago.
All they had with them is one small suitcase for a family of four and what was
left of the $100 they received when they arrived to the United States.
My father-in-law worked for Sears until he retired.
He sacrificed a lot to bring his family here to this country.
He loved this country very much and was proud to be an American.
They were allowed to take only one suitcase for a family of four.
My father-in-law made this one according the to the measurements
given to him by the officials. He wanted to make sure
they had no reason to deny their leaving because the suitcase
was the wrong size.
It was made out of wood and he painted it.
They had already packed it to make sure it was
ready when they had to leave.
The suitcase measured 21 inches.
By 16 inches.
By 7 inches.
It took a lot of courage for them to leave their families and friends
to come to the United States not knowing the language or how
they were going to provide for themselves.
I can attest to the fact that they did very well. Both my husband
and his brother are college graduates.
My sons serve their country proudly in the Army
National Guard because of what their grandfather
shared with them living in Cuba.
My nephews are in college also.
Their grandfather would be so proud of them.