Keeping the Faith This Fourth of July From the Eyes of a First Generation American

By Ana Borden

Daily, I am reminded of the great sacrifices my grandparents and parents made immigrating from their native country under conditions that tore their families apart, under life and death situations and into the unimaginable unknowns because of political unrest and religious persecution.

As I near the age in which my grandparents left their native country with their children, my parents and one of my uncles and aunt, I attempt to place myself in their situation to remind myself of the faith, courage, strength and determination they exemplified from that time of unrest with a young family.

The Fourth of July is one of those days in which I reflect on their extreme act of unselfishness to keep me grounded, humble and thankful for all of the blessings God has given us.

Unfortunately, my family is not alone in their story. Religious and political persecution continue in our world even at this very moment.

Until they left, religious celebrations and Catholic saints days became prohibited for political holidays in their native country of Cuba; their churches became places for political gatherings in lieu of religious celebrations.

My maternal grandfather is not the only political prisoner to have heard gunshots nightly after being imprisoned – without warning – for speaking against a cruel and evil regime.

My paternal grandfather is not the only physician who left his native land to work three jobs sweeping floors to support his family in an unknown country.

Leaving their extended family and the familiarity of their language, customs, food and traditions to assimilate and become working and loyal citizens of the United States of America was quite the journey.

Despite these hardships, my grandparents thanked God for the opportunities and the future America provided their family. They left behind all they had worked for and uprooted their young children’s lives with literally only the clothes on them, for religious and political freedom.

They found a new home and gratitude in the blessings of becoming contributing citizens of the United States.

Their stories are embedded in me. With time, our children will also know these stories; I pray they too will share with their own children their stories, which have formed and lead their lives to this point.

This Fourth of July and every time I recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I am reminded and proud to be an American and take much responsibility being the first member in my family born in the United States of America. Their actions are a testament that all can be accomplished when you trust and choose to follow Christ even when there are great unknowns.

Let’s remind our children today and every day to appreciate our liberties, look at the American flag with reverence, be thankful for our past and present service men and women, be proud and respectful Americans and gracious for the many blessings that we have this and every day in our “Nation under God.”

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