Mary Kate McKenna Photography

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4th of July in My Family.

He’s allowed two pieces of luggage for his family. He decides to take one suitcase and a washtub- the washtub for the baby to sleep in.

He arrives at Ellis Island in New York on the 4th of July in 1951 to find he’s headed for Davenport, Iowa, where a family has sponsored him and his family. He does not know the language, culture, customs, anything. He just goes.

Only a few weeks ago he was in a deported persons camp in West Germany. He was torn away from his college studies in Riga, where he was studying music, to fight in the war, where he was to fight on whatever side captured his people at that moment. He was a violinist, not an infantryman.

Many of his family members are dead or missing. His wife’s mother was hung, her sisters nowhere to be found. The lives of so many turned upside down.

Now he’s headed to the farm fields of the Midwest with his wife and new baby, where they will make a brand new life for themselves.

So many things to think about on the 4th of July, but for my family, it’s always marked the day my family began their life as Americans.

I’m sure glad grandpa brought that washtub for you, mom.

 

 

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