Monday, March 15, 2010

Becoming American

David Laskin, author of the forthcoming The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War, writes on History News Network,

Why would an Italian peasant from Puglia who shunned the central government in Rome proudly tell his kids about the first time he voted for an American president? Why would a Jew who smuggled himself out of the Pale in a hay-cart in order to avoid military service under the Russian tsar enlist in the United States Army? Why the profusion of American flags hung outside Polish-American homes on U.S. national holidays? The answers have shades of difference for each group, but the common factor is opportunity: not only the obvious peacetime opportunities of paying jobs, social fluidity and basic human rights, but also the wartime opportunities provided by military service.

Read the whole thing. Something to think about when tracking these or other immigrants.

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