This is a bit of Czech crystal that has been passed down through our family. My dad was born in Czechoslovakia, raised mainly in Italy, lived in England, and finally ended up in the U.S. becoming a citizen of this country. He truly represents the idea of "international" and I, being a first generation American, represent "national." Here are his feelings on inauguration day:
I am an immigrant. Nearly 53 years ago, when I was 19, I left my continent, my country, my city, my friends and family, and my way of life for a journey into the unknown. It was not easy. Since then, I have made my way in the new home, not brilliantly but, I hope, with honor and with harm to no one.
Over the years, I have often been a severe critic of this country, wondering whether perhaps I should not move elsewhere, maybe New Zealand, or Chile, or Canada. The country's actions and attitudes and, it seemed, core values were simply beyond tolerance.
No more. Now, in the midst of a catastrophic economic crisis, I have seen nearly 2 million people of all races and faiths, among them a 105-year-old woman, make a pilgrimage to their city, Washington, in many cases traveling thousands of miles, there to fight traffic and checkpoints and crowds in the bone-chilling pre-dawn darkness, all in order to stand for hours on end in the bitter cold, with good humor, peace, and tears of joy, to witness history in the making, to greet their new President, whose very presence on the steps of the Capitol was so improbable as to defy belief. For me, these actions by ordinary people have amply overwritten those of politicians and corporations driven by partisanship, stupidity and greed.
So now it is time to say: only in America could such a thing happen. Only in America could one witness such an outpouring of enthusiasm, such commitment, such a desire to pick ones self up and start anew, such an ability to reinvent not only ones self but truly the country as a whole. There is hope again.
It is also time for me to say, with tears in my eyes: I am proud to be an American at last. I have come home.