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8.15.2010

August 16, 1962

Everyone has dates that are milestones in their life.  I've posted about two of mine:  April 23, 1982 and April 5, 1984.  Neither of these two could have taken place without August 16, 1962.   Nope, it's not my birthday.  Better than that.  This is the day my mom, Older Sis, Brother and I immigrated to the United States (Baby Sis was born in the USA. Oh dear, I just heard Bruce Springsteen in my head, not a good thing as I am not a fan). 

I once had a student ask me if I swam or ran across the border.  Sad, I know.  Rather than bite her head off, which is what I wanted to do, I calmly told her neither and left it at that. In case you're wondering the same thing, we entered the U.S. via a Greyhound type bus.  I have some memories of the trip.  I was five at the time so my memories are sketchy but what I do remember is very vivid.

The trip north was long and hot...what else would you expect mid-August!  The bus was crowded and someone threw-up; turns out it was Big Sis, or so mom told me when I told her about my recollections.  I didn't think the bus ride would ever end, you know how impatient a five-year-old can be. I've intended to ask my mom if there was a never ending string of 'are we there yet'.

When we finally entered the U.S., it was at a town near San Diego, California. After being processed, my mom bought an ice cream cone for me, I suppose also for Older Sis and Brother, I don't remember that.  As we were waiting around a strange man picked me up and I started to cry.  I don't know if I was crying because a stranger had picked me up or because he'd caused me to drop my ice cream cone. Through the tears I heard my mom saying to me, 'it's your dad, don't cry'.  I must have stopped crying because the next thing I remember is riding in the back of a station wagon (a prehistoric SUV) for a long, long time before we reached our destination of Salinas, California.

Every immigrant has a reason, obviously, for coming to the U.S. Ours?  We wanted to be together as a family every day, not just a few weeks here and there.  Dad worked for a family that had a farming business in California.  He would come during the harvests, work and then return to Mexico for a few weeks.  He'd been absent most of our lives and had a yearning to have his family near him.  Since he already had legal immigrant status, he approached his employer about sponsoring us so that we could immigrate to be with him.  They most graciously said yes.  Not only did they help us immigrate, they helped us assimilate by loving us as if we were members of their extended family.

We love the Tarps and Simas', they are the reason we are living the American Dream.

Dad had his own business while I was growing up, he is retired now. Older Sis has become a landscape designer.  Brother served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 23 years, he was also selected as Marine of the Year.  I attended Brigham Young University where I graduated with a degree in child development. All of us, including Mom, have become U.S. citizens.  I'd say, contrary to what many believe, we have assimilated quite well, wouldn't you?

This was our passport photo.

That's me on the left.  I was four when this was taken.

Dad and I have had many long discussions about how fortunate we, as a family, are to have been given the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S.  I've asked both of my parents if they ever regret their decision to leave their extended families and a culture they loved to come to the U.S., they both said an emphatic 'no'.

How very fortunate I am to be a citizen of this nation of immigrants. 

6 comments:

  1. I've always loved this picture. I'm so grateful for all the sacrifices Mom and Dad made to give us a better life here. Although I was born in the U.S. (no Bruce music please), I've never let myself become a complacent citizen knowing how hard my family worked to gain their citizenship. Thank you!

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  2. I love this, Veronica. Thanks for sharing! I have met so many amazing people here in the McAllen area who have inpsired me with their stories of sacrifice to immigrate to this country. All with the hopes of being able to provide a better life for their children and loved ones. And you are so right...we are a nation of immigrants. I think all too often people forget this very simple historica fact about our young nation.

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  3. I remember when you were working on your citizenship. You should tell people about that process. I think it's good for us to know how hard you really have to work to overcome the stereotypes and red tape and predujices to become a citizen even when you are a better citizen than the people you have to deal with.

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  4. What a beautiful story. I am so glad you shared it! I can imagine the hope and faith your parents must have had as they reunited and drove that station wagon up the PCH. What a testament to how much they love each other and their family!

    PS. I, too, love this date. I became a mom August 16, 2000!

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  5. By the way, this is Stephen Tefteller.

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  6. Veronica, I just came across your blog today. Thanks for sharing your family story. I have been an election poll worker since we moved back to Utah. In 2008, the day of the presidential election a woman came in that was from Scandinavia.
    She was in her late 70's, and had just become an US citizen the month before. She cried as she cast her first ballot. She told us we had no idea what that event meant to her.
    Hope you & Bart are doing well.

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