GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 27, 2013

Letter: A different generation of immigrants


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I am writing in response to Mr. Thomas’ letter (the Times, Monday, March 25).

For many years now, I’ve read Mr. Thomas’ letters with the respect due to a man who can state his opinions with ease and eloquence. But when he asked me, a second generation offspring of Irish immigrants and third generation offspring of Lithuanian immigrants, both escaping poverty and religious/political unrest in their home countries, to walk in “the shoes of today’s immigrants,” the love affair ended.

Mr. Thomas, I do believe you have ignored the fact that a good percentage of “baby boomers” are the children of immigrants. Do you think our families were offered free housing, food, energy, education and health care when they arrived at Ellis Island? If you do, you are either childless or sorely mistaken.

Many of us are just reaching our 60s, yet remember quite well being raised in clean, nurturing environments filled with work, raising livestock for food, gardens and fruit trees to be preserved for sustenance, wearing hand me downs and sleeping in bedrooms with no heat to preserve energy costs. The government never gave us a cent, nor did we expect it to, as it equaled failure. The one luxury my parents and grandparents afforded us was education, and we took it quite seriously.

My immigrant Irish grandfather received citizenship only after surviving World War 1 and Father Duffy’s Fighting 69th. He went on to produce four college educated children, three of whom served in World War II far too young to be eligible for service. My second generation Lithuanian grandfather was the first of his entire family to attend college, Holy Cross, and went on to educate not only his own two daughters, but approximately 1,000 international students at preparatory level.

Mr. Thomas, Gloucester has always been a culturally diverse community of immigrants and self-achievers who found themselves in a melting pot of talent and perseverance that built a small world of beauty. We are generous in spirit and respect and care deeply for all those among us who need our help.

We have worked hard in our lives to have what we do and we are expected to work even harder to retain it.

We expect to be respected in return.

OONA O’NEILL

Gloucester