Abraham Lincoln said- ” I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
We have all been given battles to fight in our lives. We all know what fear, sadness, ache, and despair feel like. Some of us know these feelings more than others. Some of us may not have yet lived long enough to know. There comes a time in each of our lives where we have to stand. Stand for what we know individually to be right. To be good. To be true. For some, standing comes easy. For others, not so easy.
Our Constitution says, “We hold these truths the be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” We all have the right to prosperity and opportunity. My Grandparents, Antonio and Josephine Palmieri had a dream. It was the American dream. My grandfather, knowing if he left his home country of Italy to come to America, he would not see his family again. He knew it would be challenging. He knew there was a good chance he would fail and be left with nothing. In 1953, he, my granny, 8 months pregnant with my mom, and my 4 year old Aunt Rita boarded the Conte Bianca Mano, left all they knew behind only to hold on to the hope of a few words written on a piece of paper- Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I don’t have the words, nor do I know words that would begin to describe what Anotonio, Josephine, Rita and now their new baby girl Bianca, who was born on the ship, must have felt and experienced as they took their first steps onto American soil. Was their journey easy? No. Did their lives turn out as they had planned? No. But, their dreams were their own. No one could take that from them.
September 11, 2001, was a day where most Americans and most of the world felt fear, sadness, anger and despair. It was a day where many had to choose to stand or to not stand. It was a day where the very meaning of what it means to be an American was questioned, ridiculed and even denied. It was a day that transformed the world forever. It was the day I understood what the words Land of the Free and Home of the Brave truly mean. Today on September 11, 2012, we remember, honor and mourn for the heroes who without questions stood up for what they knew to be right, good and true. I remember. I remember traveling to New York just weeks after the attacks to give hope and aide to those in need, thinking maybe that I could be of some comfort to someone. I remember it was those who had lost everything that were the ones to give me hope and comfort. I remember always. I remember this is America. This is where Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are being lived every day! No one, not ever, can take that away from America. We are Americans.
Challenging, even scary times are ahead for Americans. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We don’t have all the answers. We are not perfect. But, we have hope. Hope that there is better. Hope that our future generations will not forget those simple yet powerful words written on an old, weary piece of paper. America should not be divided. The people and our families are the nucleus of this country. This country should not be transformed into something it wasn’t meant to be. America is for the people by the people. America is us. It is you. It is me. America was founded on a simple, humble idea. Americans are the ones who built this simple, humble idea into The Land of The Free and The Home of The Brave.
What is your dream? Don’t be afraid to dream. Dream BIG. Embark on a journey to renew your American Dream. Never forget that you are an American. I will remember. Always.