August 1995, I immigrated to the United States from my country Ethiopia. Honestly, I love my birth country and always pride myself to be an Ethiopian. Yet, even though my country was blessed by kind, gentle and lovely souls , it was cursed by mean, arrogant and brutal governments. A place where a young man like me considered a threat and pushed out of the country sometimes forcefully, and sometimes exhausted by the situation. My point here is, I didn’t wake up one day and decided to come to USA, I was attracted by the those things I lacked at home. Freedom of speech, Freedom of Assembly, freedom to worship without persecution. I read books about America. Watched movies and heard news clips. I was not naive about the lack of rights in US and the struggle to secure them. I knew about the civil rights movement and racism, yet America, is the only country that still progresses toward a more perfect union and who among us didn’t want t be a part of that? I was. America, the land of immigrants and those who are persecuted in their country. Like Jesus’s sermon on the mount, America for immigrants and refugees is like the shiny city upon the hill.
For me, America was and is everything I wanted and expected. A place where I prove myself. A place where I plan my destiny and work for it. A place where I am one of the threads in a tapestry of America. In America, I cooked chicken, delivered pizza and drove a cab. I did it all. I met people from all walks of life and I enjoyed the kindness of American’s. Dealt with some knuckleheads too, but what can we do without knuckleheads? Studied in the fine colleges and Universities and learned and befriended amazing professors and fellow students. Today, I am gainfully employed paving a way for the next generation to contribute their best to the perfect union.
America is great and America is beautiful not just because of the military might or wealth but because of its ideals. America is the hope for billions, the shinny city upon the hill. Let’s not turn that light off, without it, the world will be one sad place. And while you at it, remember your ancestors gazing at that light way back then and imagine yourself and where you will be if they are turned around.