WHAT IMMIGRANTS MEAN TO AMERICA
I am bewildered and dumbfounded that our worst fears are coming to be realized. Over the years we always tried to wonder how could it have been possible that the most civilized, the most educated nation on earth at the time – Germany could have succumbed to the horrors of the Nazis and currently the neo-Nazis under a banner of one man.
These things are unfathomable now.
Well, we are coming to realize that it’s happening, this is happening. The truth cannot be denied what was considered “right” is being twisted to the whims of charlatans under the banner of freedom and the right to speak. My Dad’s book has given me an opportunity that I never thought it would be. It puts me in a position to speak out. I’m writing a story, a memoir, people are telling me; oh you know, it’s just your Dad’s story and be satisfied with this and leave it at that. Well it seems to have taken on a life of its own and I’ll share with you a couple of passages that I’ve re-visited a few times on previous blog posts and his writings and what he shared with us, it jumps out at you and comes alive. Here are a few of the excerpts. The initial one refers to the “New Museum” that opened on the Capitol Mall in 1974. Two years later, this Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden prepared a major Exhibit for the Bicentennial. The theme was Immigrant’s Contribution to the United States 1876 – 1976. It also dealt with Artists – Immigrants of America. Initial references from the book included the building and opening of the Air and Space Museum adjacent to the Hirshhorn and its new curator Michael Collins who happened to be the Lunar Module Commander for Apollo 11. This was also mentioned in the previous chapter, Chapter 8, from “American Dreamer,” pages 185-189.
Excerpts from American Dreamer pg 186
I relished this opportunity and to impart some of my knowledge and experience knowing what it was like to be a fledgling; new kid on the block. It was an exceptional event, Thelma and I were glad to be part of it.
But this did not keep us from getting our first major, eye-opening exhibit ready to make our own contribution to the American Bicentennial. The plan was put into place an exhibit to acknowledge the contribution of the “Immigrants’” over the last 100 years that have come to our shores with the rich emphasis on Immigrant’s Art Influence.
With all the hoopla today centering around immigrants and immigration we shouldn’t lose sight of how much we owe to the millions, upon millions, upon millions who would even be considered refugees that came to this country as a last resort; and not just “ARTISTS – IMMIGRANTS OF AMERICA.” One of the things that I was most proud of was the Golden Door publication dealing with ARTIST- IMMIGRANTS OF AMERICA, 1876 – 1976. Part of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden exhibit and publication; May 20 through October 20, 1976. One of the numerous articles as early as the turn-of-the-century appeared in the New York Times and deals with the heading “Immigration Record Will Be Broken This Year; 1906.”
What makes this so prophetic is that part of this newsletter about the Golden Door is the reflection on what figures to be its personification of “Liberty.” At the base of the statue at the entrance to New York Harbor symbolizes the immigrants’ expectations. On Liberty’s base was inscribed the words by Emma Lazarus’ closing verses: Patriotic sentiments:
Give me you’re tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore; send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the Golden door!
(Figure 9.23 Golden Door Artists- Immigrants 1876-1976); Figure PP5.1 (Figure 9.24 Bicentennial Exhibit, MEMO; Figure PP5.2
Figure 9.25 Bicentennial Exhibit Article, “Melting Pot” Figure PP5.3
Their acceptance was a cyclical thing, the immigrant’s lot would go through periods of increases and decreases. In the article, the last paragraph states “the outbreak of World War I led to intensified efforts to assure the immigrants’ patriotism and loyalty.” By the 1920s, however, a virulent restrictionism began to dominate the American attitude towards immigration. Passage “Through the Golden Door” became possible for fewer and fewer immigrants.” How ironic that things haven’t changed much during the passage of all these years.
The second passage that I’ve included, is from a letter that my Dad sent to Mike Wallace of media broadcasting and of the “60 Minutes” fame 40 years ago. But first, let me digress to the serious events and issues of today.
I am pleased to share with you a message written by my good friend, Rabbi Daniel Treiser of the Temple B’nai Israel, Clearwater Florida. It addresses recent events that culminated with the terror attacks against protesters and the death of Heather Heyer and the injury of 19 others as well as the tragic loss of Lt. H Jay and Trooper Burke M.M. Bates when their helicopter crashed in Virgina a week ago.
Rabbi Daniel Treiser Message on the today’s current events and issues, Figure PP5.4
This message should be read vigilantly and taken to heart. Rabbi Treiser tried to carefully purport all the views dealing with the circumstances that took place.
Quoting a friend and colleague Rabbi Dan Levin who wrote, “Neo-Nazis and white supremacist know nothing of those whom they hate. They seek to find power and preserve privilege in society, not by virtue of their own personal merit and achievement, but because they worship the superficial and have found scapegoats to blame for their frustrations and resentments.” And follows with words of the great Ellie Wiesel, Prof. and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” And Rabbi Treiser continued, “we cannot remain silent. The overwhelming voice of good, tolerance and love in our nation MUST be stronger than the shouts of hate. Vigils and rallies against intolerance continue to occur throughout our communities. Be a part of them.”
As I said, there are strange things happening. Is it just coincidental that the crypto quote on August 16, was a saying from Rosa Park, the very brave woman who refused to leave her seat at the front of a Birmingham Alabama bus and started the Civil Rights Movement in earnest? Here is one of her formidable responses. It Is certainly applicable today and for the future: “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
What is going to be occurring in the next months and years is incumbent upon all of us not to stand by and let others go forth and express views that we are sympathetic with. It sounds and looks like it is going to be necessary to pick up the torch, that’s the irony of ironies because those people who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia under banner of white supremacists promoting bigotry, racism, hatred carried with torches. It was those inexpensive tiki-torches which they purchased to spew their message of hate and intimidation which if it gets out of hand could burn down the democracy that this country was built on. I am writing this at about 1:30 am, Thursday morning, August 17 with the help of my voice recorder which has been instrumental in preparing and capturing what evolved into the American Dreamer: A Look into the Life of My Father, Joe baby; He Wrote It… They Did It… He Saved It… If I didn’t have all these little nuances, advances for preparing this material it would a disadvantage. Yet, this is what my Dad had to deal with when he first sat down and hand wrote everything and then saved it. It would be a long time coming before it all came together for us to perceive.
So, what you can see is, we need to be vigil and as the saying that has been handed down to us, “Freedom is Not Free” and “Silence is Not Golden”. It’s a means of perpetuating our inheritance and our heritage.
Thank you for this opportunity to be able to speak out. I admire all those people who went to the rallies and organized to show their support for the freedoms that we hold dear and evidently there is a wide range of support that is going to be needed. We fought for it, we defended it, we need to keep defending it.
My Dad wrote about it and we all need to speak out in gatherings and our places of worship, city halls, in parks and show the spirit of this great country and what it was based on. Maybe we’ve had it too easy and the time is necessary to show our cherished values and our moral courage. God help America as well as we need to pitch in to help the cause.
This country is based on the hard work, and blood of immigrants, that tilled the fields, fueled the factories, secured the battlefields and don’t let anybody say otherwise. This is what is real, not fake news, it’s not something that we normally shout about that when people like my Dad took the time to keep this close to his heart and wanted us to know what it meant. He didn’t shine by going about wanting to make people see it, carry torches, yet he thought about every day, whether working hard, as a soldier, father, helping in the building of Museums, Performing Arts Centers and Libraries; he showed by example.
This is the reason I have acquired the Domain Name: ImmigrantsRUSA.com and once the book is published I plan to have time, I would like to hear your stories, about your family; your parents, grandparents, and of course you.
I listen to some of the twisted justifications that these white supremacy neo-Nazis spew that they think they were just dropped in this country, that they are the purveyors of what’s right. They must be blind to the fact that every one of us are immigrants, unless we came from an old Indian nation. We worked hard, we built this country. What have they done that they could justify to purge everyone that doesn’t fall into their view of the Aryan image and mentality? It’s almost always the same, whether it’s religious fanaticism or extremism. You really have a tough time trying to reason with this ideology.
Joe Sefekar, almost 40 years ago felt it was necessary to speak out in his terms so he wrote it out. He tried to separate free speech and our First Amendment with calling for riotous actions and atrocities from the heinous outpourings of Nazi sympathizers in Skokie, Illinois.
This was in comparison to the listener of the Mike Wallace radio talk show when comedian George Carlin used a few colorful words that the listener felt offensive because his young son happened to be in the car listening in comparison to Nazi sympathizers discharging death and other atrocities.
(Figure 10.18 Letter to Mike Wallace of 60 minutes); Figure PP5.5
I even had time (Joe speaking) to contact Mike Wallace formidable TV host of “60 Minutes,” about a news report hearing with George Carlin, the comedian from one of the listeners who heard these dirty words while he was driving with his son and was offended. The new story followed an item on the Skokie demonstration – how can Mr. Douglas talk about an insult on the senses and not say anything about life-and-death assault by the Nazis in Skokie, Illinois? Is only assault on the senses could be condoned under the First Amendment, but an assault on death should not be allowed to surface as free speech when what it spews forth its death.
I went on to furnish some facts if they could use the follow-up scenario: That being a native-born American, with some normal religious interest – meaning like attending Friday night services, just as Catholics attend Sunday church services. By the grace of God, my parents migrated from Salonica, Greece to America. My mother left three sisters behind, they, their husbands and children were slain by the Germans, 15 in all. Four cousins survived the concentration camps – one is in Canada, one is in New York and two are in Israel. My exposure to the Holocaust was during my tour of duty in Europe with Hdqtrs. First U.S. Army. Our units liberated Buchenwald and I observed what remained before it was cleaned up. What will stay with me forever was the abattoir with hooks along the walls below the ceiling. Two survivors explained that the prisoners were impaled by their chin on the hooks. Maybe it is a sense of stoicness and the ability to bend instead of breaking that has enabled the Jew to survive throughout the generations. My cousin Haim became a bank guard in Tel Aviv; Eli owns a carpet store in Canada; Pepo is a grocer-owner in Brooklyn.
So, as indicated earlier, I’m planning to launch this website www.ImmigrantsRUSA.com and will open up the door, open up the gates to hear stories that people would like to share and I’d like to hear from these white supremacists to have the guts to see what their contributions have been; positive contributions have been to help build this country, make it better, instead of spewing hatred and belligerency.
POST #50 PRE-PRINTING PT. 1
A MEMORABLE STORY OF A MAN ON A MISSION
HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!
“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE, AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”
HOLD THE PRESSES EVERYONE, JUST RECEIVED NEWS THAT “OUR COMMANDER IN GRIEF” HAS ISSUED HIS PONTIFICATION ON IMMIGRATION GUIDELINES.
Good thing it wasn’t issued 100 years ago. I’d be writing this posting from Salonika, Greece and it would be all Greek to you. Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on this right now and detract from the message appearing below. And I want to carefully craft my response before it goes viral. You know what they say when hitting the send button it cannot be retracted. So, expect to hear something in the next day or so.
OK, ANOTHER STOP THE PRESSES, This time for a major accomplishment. My sister Bonnie Sefekar Landau and her husband Lee Elliot Landau celebrated today on Thursday, August 3, 2017; 43 years of happily marital bliss. Wonderful years together, I can attest; Soul mates from the get-go. No, this is not a Geico commercial. He even loaned her one of his kidneys three (3) years ago. And they’re living happily after laughter.
Figures PP.1 Bonnie and Lee’s Wedding, My Sister, Bonnie and Lee Landau Celebrating 43 years of marital bliss today, Thursday, August 3, 2017
HOW BEAUTIFUL THE YEARS HAVE BEEN
Welcome my good and dear readers, friends, and country folks. Well, we’re here in August. July, offered a lot of good happenings. Met some new people and contacts, opened some new doors that will help with getting the book ready for distribution.
A few of the major developments is that the Book Council in New York saw fittingly enough of the book it was presented, they will want me to speak at a number of book fairs and literary gatherings. First on the agenda is the 2017-2018 Festival of Jewish Books & Conversations. This Tampa Bay event is being held in October where yours truly the Opening night Author. Also in dropping off copies of the books to the Hirshhorn Museum and Ruth Eckert Hall here in Clearwater, there’s been a very good response and I’ll share this with you.
Figure PP.2 Ruth Eckerd Hall acknowledging Tampa copy of book presented to them.
Figure PP.1 Invitation to be part of Jewish Book Fair in October.
So, we are in the final throes of getting the book to you and once the details are available we will arrange for the actual delivery date. I will be looking to travel in the next few months to broaden the horizons and meet many of you that have been following us. So, I will be happy to provide a schedule of where these events will be held and possibly at a Barnes & Noble’s bookstore near you. Thanks again for all your interest and support and we’ll talk soon.
We will be zeroing on a date forth coming for obtaining copies of the book. We are also planning to allow readers to access the website or blog postings and have available pertinent documents and materials and pictures not able to be included in the book. It would make the cost prohibitive; as providing a nice twist to it so it kinds of doubles the pleasure as well is a good bang for the buck, ha.
I’ve been providing examples throughout of all my Father dutifully collected letters, documents, memorabilia. This one is for the hundred days (100) prior to the 2000 Millennium. Daily articles appeared in the St. Petersburg Times. Starting with September 23rd, 1999 and leading up to December 31, 2000, the Times had a Capsule summary with pictures for each year. I found them all in a folder and managed to crop and scan the pictures of some of “their” (Mom and Dad’s) highlighted years and then reverted to quarter-century presentations in preceding blog postings. Interestingly enough the last twenty-five years appear in the August Newsletter for your reading enjoyment. As you can imagine these 11 by 18 pages would not bode-well for inclusion in the printed book. This was confirmed by the copy editor of the printing company printing the first 18 Bound Galley copies of the book; showing her the complete rendition of the over 25 pages encapsulating a hundred years. It was very entertaining as she leafed through it, picking out all the major highlights of her birth, marriage, children being born etc. A major advantage worth mentioning about this format is allowing once clicked on you can increase the magnification to see it more clearly and with better resolution, a real-win-win. So, it’s a bonus for the book to include links to Appendices, large files and blog postings that are pertinent but could not be added due to the number of pages, color content and allows an outlet for new additional material that comes to light…
Figure PP.4 Century Countdown 1972-1975, Figure PP.5 Century Countdown 1976-1978
Figure PP.6 Century Countdown 1979-1981, Figure PP.7 Century Countdown 1982-1985
Figure PP.8 Century Countdown 1986-1988, Figure PP.9 Century Countdown 1989-1992
Figure PP.10 Century Countdown 1993-1995, Figure PP.11 Century Countdown 1996-1999
Thank you all for your support, it means a great deal and if you get some enjoyment and introspection this can be transcribed as a fitting testimonial for my father.
As an added feature for our readers and audience, we are also posting on twitter, @JoesLegacy and on Instagram, items that appear in the book and related matters. We are still eliciting your comments and suggestions. I hope to develop a running dialogue with you all, as many of you have provided us with comments that appear in the social media and we value that. I try to get to them as much as I can with the help of my associates and do appreciate my valued followers.
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