” Far, we’ve been traveling far…” opens Neil Diamond’s song “America.” I think about this weekend because it reminds me of my family and the purpose of America. On a personal level, my mother is celebrating her birthday. She is my guiding strength and one of the greatest people I know. Mom was born into a working class family that had provided service to our nation in War and peace. She graduated from South Park High School. It was a rough part of South Buffalo, an Irish neighborhood. She grew up strong. For her profession, my mom became a nurse, graduating from EG Meyers school of Nursing (now UB Nursing). She went to work caring for the neediest. One of the positions she held was working with children who had been abandoned by their families. Mom treated them as if they were part of her family. Reflecting the work that The Venerable Father Nelson Baker, my mother has always had a way of helping those at need. Later, my mother went to work for the State, serving as an nurse at the Buffalo Psyche center. There she provided comfort to those that needed help soothing the demons of their minds. As part of here work at the state, Mom saw to the safety and health of public workers throughout Western New York. Mom helped to ensure the COs at a corrections facility were safe. She ensured teachers were safe from harm at schools. She helped volunteer firefights be safe during their vigilance. Before she retired from the state, Mom served as a nursing home inspector. There she had responsibility to ensure the elderly who were most at risk were cared for compassionately, correctly and competently by the medical staff. My mother, born into a working class family in a poor area of south buffalo, NY, rose above this to ensure people most in need of protection because they protected others had the support. My mother is my hero. She is a great person. I truly love her.
On July 3 is my parent’s wedding anniversary. Married in the days of the 1970s, they met in a hospital, where my Dad had suffered from an accident a drunk driver caused. Mom nursed him back to health. My father overcame some major injuries to court my mother, and finish his degree in Chemistry from University at Buffalo. He worked as a railroad fireman. Dad’s work on the railroad allowed him to see the road, but caused him to miss a very brief time when we were growing-up. Dad made up for that and more later in life, as he became our Scout leader in Cubscouts and served as our troop committee Chairman.Dad took us camping to Canada, Gettysburg, the national Jamboree, and Philmont. His service in scouting was also part of his work during the day. Dad served first as a chemist in the Department of Environmental Conservation, ensuring water quality at the Great Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondacks. After DEC protection, my dad went to work at the asbestos control bureau in Buffalo. Rising to the ranks of a regional supervisor, Dad ensured that workers, citizens, and community members were safe from Asbestos when it was present, removed and disposed. Dad worked hard and was dedicated to ensure companies did what was right and safe. Dad’s family came from Poland, and were farmers. They had worked on the railroad. In the span of 5 generations, our family had gone to college and had served the community.
My parents inspired our family to serve the community. My sister, Emily serves to ensure research sites are doing research in medical efforts to help people. My brother, Nick, work to ensure computers and technology is functioning at a college in the Buffalo region. I worked at State Ed to help schools ensure educational opportunities for students improve.
On July 4th, let us not just have a picnic and watch parades. Remember why the United States of America came into being: We are a land of opportunity for people looking for a second start. America welcomes people who are “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breath free.” We should not go back to the days of hatred, discrimination, and imperialism. Citizens of America are great peoples. Lets dedicate ourselves to service projects, helping our neighbors, and improving the life of the weakest and neediest.
On a personal note, to quote Outkast: “Thank God for Mom and Dad For sticking through together. Cause we don’t know how….” You are role models for Nick & Marissa, and Elizabeth and me.