Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

Home » Constitution » Everyone wants to be the last immigrant…

Everyone wants to be the last immigrant…


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I once knew a man who was the most patriotic American I had ever met. The flag went up in front of his house every Memorial day, every July 4th, President’s day and every other day when he could find an excuse to do so.

He stood up and put his hand over his heart whenever he saw the flag. He teared up at patriotic events in person and on TV. His love for this country was profound and he was never afraid to show it. He voted for Goldwater, Nixon, Ford and Reagan before he died. He was a true Patriot in every sense of the word. He was my father.

In 1944, while he was serving his home country as a Chief Engineer in the Greek Merchant Marine, his ship docked in NY Harbor. He got off the boat (it was called “jumping ship”) and never went back. He had no visa, no work permit, nothing but his clothes and his last paycheck-in what was the Greek currency at the time-Drachmas.

He spent some time in Chicago, going from job to job, trying to make his way in the US. My father was, in every sense of the word, what is commonly referred to as, “an illegal”.

After about 20 years or so he was able to become a citizen. He started a small machine shop in NYC, ultimately employing over 200 people. This illegal turned out to be a pretty good citizen and what most people would call an asset to this country.

Unfortunately he, due to his conservative views, came to view other immigrants as interlopers and intruders. He died a bigoted man, believing himself to be a true American, but not wanting to offer that chance to others. He figured that we had enough immigrants now, and it was time to close the borders. That was just before he died in 1985.

Knowing which groups to hate is relatively easy. Fox “News” and it’s ilk is there to tell us. It’s easy to pick a group and decide that they’re not entitled to the same opportunities as are you.

It takes genuine thought and reflection to know when to be compassionate to those who are less fortunate than us and need our help.
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