The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

God Bless America! (a letter)

Modified: Monday, 21 June 2021 09:05 by admin - Uncategorized
In 1970, the New York Times published the following Letter to the Editor, written by a Polish immigrant. She details her arrival, her struggles for success and her admiration for her new country. It was entered into the Congressional Record November 30, 1970 by Senator Proxmire of Wisconsin.

It would be reprinted in newspapers for several years. In a September 1976 radio broadcast, Ronald Reagan read short portions from the letter (highlighted).




(By Janina Atkins)

Just over six years ago I came to this country with $2.60 in my purse, some clothes, a few books, a bundle of old letters, a little eiderdown pillow, and a beautiful china tea set for twelve-a going-away gift from my friends. I was an immigrant girl hoping for a new life and happiness in a strange new country.

Today, for the first time, I shall be celebrating Thanksgiving Day as an American citizen and, for millions of Americans before me, this will be a day of gratitude for the dreams that come true.

Mine is not a spectacular success story, nor is that of my husband. We both left the "old country" in 1964 to seek a new beginning in the free world of America. We did not know each other at that time, but when we met in New York City we had to face the same problems. Our career qualifications were of little use, we had language difficulties, no steady jobs, no family, few friends. It was easy to be despondent. And I did cry my eyes out in an apartment I shared with another girl.

But, slowly, times changed. There is something in the air of America that filled my soul with a feeling of independence, and independence begot strength. There is no one here to lead you by hand, but also no one to order you about. Once you land in America you are left to yourself, to shape your own future, to test yourself. This, I suppose, is what living in freedom means.

We started at the bottom-no other choice. Working by day—I as a secretary and my husband as a clerk—and studying by night, we took the old route so many Americans have taken. Whatever we earned went for rent, food, tuition at Columbia and books. An education loan from New York State helped. Naturally, we did not save a single cent. But we believed in the future. And the future did not disappoint us.

Today, we work in our new profession as librarians. My husband is studying for his doctorate. We live in a comfortable apartment in mid-Manhattan. Week-ends we drive to the country in a white-and-red car, a dream I've always had. Every year we travel to some faraway place. All this, we know, we owe to ourselves. And to the most hospitable and beautiful country in the world.

In the year my husband and I arrived in New York City almost 300,000 immigrants came to the United States from all over the world. Some, maybe, did not make out as good as we did. Some have achieved much more. But for all, I am certain, their hearts fluttered as mine did when we repeated the Oath of Allegiance.

Among some of our American-born friends it is not fashionable to be enthusiastic about America. There is Vietnam, drugs, urban and racial conflicts, poverty and pollution. Undoubtedly, this country faces urgent and serious problems. But what we, the newcomers, see are not only the problems but also democratic solutions being sought and applied. When on Nov. 3d for the first time I cast my vote as a free citizen of a free country, only then I truly realized what it means to have the power of participation in a democratic government.

Perhaps on this Thanksgiving Day we might well remember that there is much in America to be grateful for.

I love America because nobody pays attention to my accent. Only out of curiosity do people ask me "where are you from?" They accept me for what I am. They do not question my ancestry, my faith, my political beliefs. I love this country because when I want to move from one place to another I do not have to ask permission. Because when I want to go abroad I just buy a ticket and go.

I love America because when I need a needle to go to the nearest [store] Woolworth's or Lamston's and get it. I love it because I do not have to stand in line for hours to buy a piece of tough, fat meat. I love it, because, even with inflation, I do not have to pay a day's earnings for a small chicken.

I love America because America trusts me. When I go into a shop to buy a pair of shoes I am not asked to produce my Identity Card. I love it because my mail is not censored. My phone is not tapped. My conversation with friends is not reported to the secret police.

Sometimes, when I walk with my husband through the streets of New York, all of a sudden we stop, look at each other and smile and kiss. People think we are in love, and it is true. But we are also in love with America. Standing in the street, amidst the noise and pollution, we suddenly realize what luck and what joy it is to live in a free country.


Source Links

1970 Congressional Record containing Letter

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