We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant

We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant

Excerpt

It is a most important moment when an immigrant says farewell to his native land forever, and watches its coast line sink beneath the horizon for the last time. My father had this experience in 1889. Along with thousands of his generation, he undertook the journey across the Atlantic. In the United States, he established his home and his family, and lived for nearly half a century. Unpretentiously, simply, and harmoniously, his life blended into the American stream, and became a humble but honorable fragment of the record of forgotten thousands who have helped to build this nation. His plain virtues of perseverance, thrift, patience, and rugged honesty, and his remarkable gifts as a thoroughly trained mechanic, brought him a measure of success which enabled him to provide for those he loved the advantages of which his youth had been deprived. His deep-seated devotion to the basic ideals of our American life was born of a long and satisfying experience in the land of his choice.

Out of such experiences, I venture to believe, the real Epic of America must eventually be written. I have attempted here to do no more than to suggest some of the broader outlines of that epic story. No one realizes better than I how much work remains to be done.

It would have given me greater happiness to have my father read this book than anything else I have written. Now I can only dedicate it, with love and gratitude, to his memory.

CARL WITTKE

1939 . . .

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