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This Thanksgiving, be thankful for where you're at

Write to the Point


Last updated 11/21/2018 at 5:23pm

Each time I get to write this column for the Thanksgiving edition I like to relate some sort of story about why I am thankful. Thankful not just this year, but in all years.

This year is no different, mostly. It has been an interesting year for me in many ways, at times testing the boundaries of happiness and sadness.

The latter began early this year with the passing of my mom at age 92. She lived a long life and was blessed with relatively good physical health and definitely good mental health. For that I am thankful, and I know she was too.

My happiness lies with the fact that I got married this past August to the love of my life. My only regret is I didn’t find her sooner, but now that I have, it has given me a new lease on everything I do.

In between are all the ups and downs that life can bring. It has not been easy closing out mom’s estate, attempting to sell my house and move into new surroundings. The latter has been the easiest, however, and for that I am eternally grateful to my wife.

I’m also thankful I was able to return to Guatemala again this year, my sixth mission trip to that country. Being able to see how different people live in a different land, and indeed share in their lives, has opened my eyes and my heart in many ways that are difficult to describe in 750 words — but here are a couple.

I am thankful my parents descended from relatives who came to this country prior to 1875. I picked this year because, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, that was when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that regulation of immigration was a federal responsibility.

Prior to that, while some Americans weren’t always pleased with waves of immigrants from European countries settling in their area, they also weren’t that concerned about the legality of their coming here. We also weren’t worried about documentation since none was required.

That’s different today, and we apply different standards to those who come to this country, not only legally or illegally but also from where they originate. For that, I am grateful that I stem from white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock.

It’s not that I have anything against others who aren’t. Far from it. It is my loss as a human being that I can’t count among my circle of friends more black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or others of different ethnicities or religious backgrounds.

It’s my loss because without those origins, I wouldn’t know just how lucky I am to be born an American if I hadn’t be able to travel abroad. But those travels have clued me in to why many seek to come here illegally and legally.

Having seen how indigenous Guatemalans live, it’s no wonder they would wish to pull up roots — leaving behind large families and familiar surroundings — to make a dangerous journey north with the slim hopes of being able to reap a better life. I have been thankful in the past that I live in a country that made little commotion about taking them in.

But unfortunately, that’s changed because my country is increasingly fearful.

Fearful of those who are different because they might force us to become as much like them as we wish them to be like us. Fearful those strangers will somehow deprive us of our livelihood, something hard to believe given that according to the Migration Policy Institute, 34 percent of adult illegal immigrants have a sixth to 12th-grade education.

You have a hard time making it in this country with just a high school diploma.

It’s funny, this need for documentation. Our leaders demand it of those coming up from the South, even going so far as building walls, if not of brick and mortar than at least of armed humans.

And yet, according to 2015 statistics — which haven’t changed all that much since then — 16 percent of the 11.3 million undocumented population are from Asia, with another 5 percent coming from Europe, Canada and/or Oceania.

Very little is said about these folks. But that’s no surprise because it’s easier to whip up the public reactions and support if you can make them fearful of invading caravans from Central America than it is of people who might look more like you.

But this Thanksgiving, I am still thankful to be an American. Because this country has shown in the past it can emerge from darkness into light — and can do so again.

John McCallum can be reached at


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