Is it possible to believe this is Immigrant Heritage Month?
In 2014, the first Immigrant Heritage Month was celebrated in the United States. In 2016 President Obama officially declared June as Immigrant Heritage Month citing that “one of the remarkable things about America is that nearly all of our families originally came from someplace else…It’s a source of our strength and something we all can take pride in. And this month – Immigrant Heritage Month – is a chance to share our American stories.”
Italian American and German American Heritage Months overlap. I have not found the official month for Swiss Heritage month but it appears that some communities in America celebrate it in May.
There are many other heritage months that relate to our origins and every month is Immigrant Heritage Month on this blog.
Today, not everyone wants to remember that a lot of us are here because of immigrants.
In March, for Women’s History Month, I made an alphabetical list of female ancestors in my tree. It was especially important to make a list for Immigrant Heritage Month while the world watches the unimaginable humanitarian crisis that is being allowed to continue at our southern border.
It is not the first time the United State Government separated families.
I don’t live far from a cemetery for Native American children that died at an industrial school for Indian children. The United States Government wanted to “kill the Indian and save the child” out of those children. A couple of years ago, the United States Army finally agreed to disinter the remains back to their tribes and is trying to identify the remains in 4 graves just this week with data and records being preserved by Dickinson College.
Did you know some of the graves were moved twice? Once because they weren’t allowed to be buried in the town’s “white cemetery.” Twice because it was in the way of a road they were expanding. Now graves are marked by the wrong headstone or contain more than one child.
You can Google more about the plans to disinter the remains in the cemetery and be horrified about United States Industrial School history and I hope you are.
Check out Carlisle Indian School Cemetery Find a Grave to see images of the headstones tribe of each Native American buried there.
Some of the Native American children died a few months after coming to live at the school, not having the same immunities. Some children had the “Indian” beaten out of them. There are stories of the Native American children who stayed in the area after their stay ended at the school. One young man took his life on the local street corner. But it was all okay because some were great athletes and made the town look good.
There are stories of the ghosts of sexually abused Native American girls haunting the old dorm building now on the Army Barracks.
The local schools stopped using the “Indians” name for their sports teams in the early 1990s.
But I am not Native American. This is not the point. This is what happened the last time children were separated from their families by the United States Government.
I can’t imagine the refugee and immigrant children in my tree, as they came here to a country that doesn’t speak their language, being separated from their families like this. And in 100 years there will be digital resource center like the above link from Dickinson College used for the nearly 2,400+ displaced children at the Southern border. The people accessing the records will wonder how this was possible.
Maybe by the time you are reading this the number of displaced children will be 10,000+
Does Immigrant Heritage Month exist in this country right now?!
The following list is the ABCs of some of the immigrants and their origins in my family tree:
A – Angelo Ferraro, my great great grandfather, Kingdom of Italy to Brooklyn
B – Emilia Bold, my great great grandmother, Prussia to Ohio
C – Cesidio Marcella, my great grandfather, Kingdom of Italy to Philadelphia
D – Dorothea Elisabetha Mathilde Gerbing, my 3rd great grandmother’s younger sister, Prussia to Chicago
E – Elisabetha Scheid Bold, my 3rd great grandmother, Prussia to Brooklyn
F – Filomena Napolitano, my great great grandmother, Kingdom of Italy to Brooklyn
G – Johann Friedrich Gerbing, my 4th great grandfather, Prussia to Chicago
H – Anne Marie Aloisia (Anna) Heinzen Kirsch, my great great grandmother, Switzerland to Chicago
I – Italy, the birthplace of my immigrant parent
J – Johann Leies, my great great grandfather, Prussia to Wooster, Ohio
K – Ludwig Fritz (Louis) Kirsch, my great great grandfather, Prussia to United States to Switzerland to Chicago
L – Louisa Anna Elisabetha Gerbing, my 3rd great grandmother, Prussia to Chicago
M – Marie Louise Koppel, my 3rd great grandmother, Prussia to Chicago
N – Nuenschweiler, the birthplace of my immigrant second great grandparents Emilia Bold and Johann Leies
O – Ocean, every immigrant in my tree had to cross an ocean
P – Paolo Massei, my great grandmother’s brother, Kingdom of Italy to Mercer, New Jersey
Q – Quirinus Eckebrecht, my 3rd great grandfather, Prussia to Chicago
R – Rodalben, Germany, the birthplace of my immigrant 3rd great grandmother Elisabetha Scheid Bold
S – Serafina Merlenghi, my great grandmother, Italy to Philadelphia
T – Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled massed yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.*
U – Unthinkable in 2018. It is unthinkable in 2018 that those defending the separation of immigrant children from their parents sound like the slaveholders of the 1840s and 1850s.
V – Vincenzo Merlenghi, brother of my great grandmother, Kingdom of Italy to Philadelphia
W – Wachenheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, birthplace of my immigrant 3rd great grandfather Johann Schuttler
X – July IV MDCCLXXVI, etched on the tablet that Lady Liberty is holding
Y – New York Harbor, 80% of the immigrants in my tree arrived at New York Harbor
Z – Zopito Di Francesco, brother of my great grandfather who went to Canada because of the United States Immigration Quota Laws. He came from the Kingdom of Italy and landed in Nova Scotia.
I cringed using Lady Liberty in a blog post this month. My ancestors that cheered when they approached her symbolic refuge would be turned away because of their origins and I would not be American. *Lady Liberty’s beacon has been turned off.