Letter - Immigrants work hard, come for better life

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Let me tell you a story of two grandmothers. My father’s mother, Anna Harbaugh Sedam, was born in a sod house on the plains of Nebraska in 1884. This side of the family has been here since the mid-1600s.

The first Sedam (Suydam then) was born in Brooklyn in New Amsterdam (now New York) about 1660. The Harbaughs have been here since the early 1700s. I have two fourth great-grandfathers who were Revolutionary soldiers and fought for independence.

Grandmother Sedam was a “Rosie the Riveter” and built B-17s that helped win World War II while my father served in the South Pacific. She taught me to fish, camp and get around in the woods. She is probably the reason I became a forester and worked 30 years for the U.S. Forest Service.

My maternal grandmother, Teresa Mercuri Farraro, immigrated from Calabria, Italy, in 1909, looking for a better life. Her gift to me was understanding and tolerance.

She spoke very little English and whenever this side of the family got together we spoke Italian for her. She always had to have an adult family member accompany her to any kind of legal function to witness her mark because she could neither read nor write. Because she was illiterate, she never became a citizen, but she worked hard and contributed to this country her whole life.

She is the reason that, unlike most of my peers, I have no problem with immigrants who come here and keep their language, customs and culture, because I know that no matter what, they work hard and contribute.

And I know their children and grandchildren will be just like the rest of us and they, too, will work hard and contribute and make this country a better place.

We are lucky to have them and should thank our lucky stars they continue to come here looking for a better life.

Denny Sedam

Walla Walla

Comments

namvet60 5 months ago

My ancestors made the long hard trip to America in the 1800's and they went through the citizenship process. Now to compare the immigrants of the 1800's with the illegals of today is a far stretch for anyone's imagination. The immigrants in that era had to work to plant crops and work the land just to survive. They didn't have the luxury of being given food, healthcare, housing and possible amnesty. For this to be a comparison is irresponsible for anyone to even suggest.

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dsedam 5 months ago

No, it is not a stretch. These "illegals" are not "given" food, they're not "given" healthcare, they're not "given" housing and they're not "given" amnesty. They come here looking for a better life and they work hard. They work at jobs that you and I don't want or won't do. If it weren't for the "illegals" who come up here half the food that we find on our grocery shelves wouldn't be there. And contrary to what the pundits would have us believe, they do it without receiving half the benefits you and I take for granted.

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namvet60 5 months ago

Your response is a little strange? Are you insinuating that the "illegals" of the past decade are battling the same elements that the migrant immigrants contended with in the 1800's - we definitely had different history books? If that is the case I have no response other than they are "illegals" and the United States is not taking care of the current citizens (children & adults) that are living in poverty. I will also respond with that these "illegals" have a better life than some of those citizens already living in the dregs of despair.

I'm still baffled over the comparison of the migrant immigrants of the 1800's having the same challenges as the "illegal" immigrants of today? I don't see these "illegals" traveling by horse and wagon.

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dsedam 5 months ago

Well, the only response I can give, and I'll leave it at that and say no more, is if you think they are living such and easy life, I would suggest that you go to their turf and spend some time. I think you'll find that they don't have it any easier than our ancestors did.

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namvet60 5 months ago

Sorry - been there, done that.

Maybe if you would like to get out of the Airport or get off the main thoroughfares and visit areas in the US you will find that we have the same type areas right here in the good ole' US of A with people scrounging to eat and make a living. This government should allow the care of the present population first and then allow immigrants that want to migrate legally go through the process.

We also have locations that are devastated by weather and other destruction by Mother Nature (mudslides, wildfires, etc. . . . . . ) and are homeless with no where to go - don't you think those situations need to be addressed first without bringing thousands of illegals and flying them all over the country and provide for them?

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chicoli 5 months ago

Thanks Danny, many of us understand what you mean. I know many Italian descendant citizens in Walla Walla. Wonderful and kind people!

Yes, we need to secure our borders and certainly improve the process of bringing migrants legally. But if we as Americans want to claim exceptional and magnanimous superiority in the world, we need to improve our tolerance. Of course within the boundaries of law, but always within the purview of benevolence.

On the other hand we need to stop the traditional support of sanguinary dictators in South and Central America. We need to stop swamping these countries with guns and weapons that easily end up in the hands of gangs and criminals of all sorts. We need to do something about this USA of ours incredible appetite for illegal drugs, our people more than willing to pay any price for them. These countries are so corrupt, and in such terrible economical shape, any one would feel compel to come to this Country...for a better life!

The chicken coming home to roost?

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