Let me tell you a story about a country whose national constitution and its leaders promised each and every citizen free room and board in an apartment complex, a tuition-free education from K-14 and college, and that the government would provide a monthly stipend to the student if they maintained a grade of “C” or better during the semester.
And, upon graduation from college, there would be a guaranteed job anywhere they chose to live in that country. Oh, one moment please…did I forget to mention that the government also guaranteed its citizens that in addition they would receive free medical and hospital and dental care?
Where is – or was – this Paradise?
Obviously it is not here in these United States.
Just sign here on the dotted line and the government will issue you a passport.
But, before you sign, please read the small print, you may not be in a hurry to pack and leave. In that small print, it states: The recipient shall forfeit their US citizenship to board and pledge alliance to the USSR.
Like myself, thousands did sign away their rights and disappeared into the land of unbelievable promises.
I do not know how many Jews left America for Birobidzhan, an area in the Soviet Far East, but some did. The Soviets promised them a homeland. I also do not know the actual numbers who picked up their families and slammed the doors to their homes in France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Syria, China and from the four corners of the earth. But I do know that there were more than 300 Armenian American families that had given up on America and had accepted Stalin’s invitation to “repatriate” to the USSR. I was in one of the two groups that left the land of the free and the home of the brave…
The Soviet Union and its leader Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili aka Stalin needed manpower to rebuild the war-devastated country and anyone who could pick up a shovel was welcomed to get into the employment and bread lines.
They answered “Uncle Joe’s” call because many believed “capitalism” was had outlived its purpose and that communism would indeed, some day, lift the pathos of the exploited workers of the world. Aside from the many promises, the Soviet Union had also emerged from World War II as a “superpower”. Stalin had gobbled up most of Europe and, in 1949, when Mao Tse-tung ‘s Red Army forced Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to move the Cabinet of the National Government to Formosa, (nee Taiwan) one need not crack a fortune cookie to read the future of the Chinese people.
There suddenly were Communists everywhere…at least the young Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy maintained that was so.
The Western World was sick of war and no power, not even the newly-established United Nations was willing to say “Nyet” to Stalin.
And we, the children of the Great Depression, who saw our fathers lose everything, including their hope in the country, wept for those we cherished so dearly. Bread lines in America? No jobs! Work two hours or two days, if lucky, on WPA projects!– Looking for food, even scraps, in the empty boxes at the Eastern Market..these are the images of America in the 1930’s.
Who among us that survived the bloody clashes between the strikers and scabs and police to bring in the Labor Unions will ever forget! The blood stains are still there…on the concrete at the Rouge Bridge where UAW strikers and Ford’s henchmen, led by the sadist Bennett, battled for the write to organize a union at the Ford Motor Company. Who among us will forget the Flint sit-down strike? The Republic Steel Company and the Memorial Day massacre in South Chicago where police fired upon strikers leaving a pool of a blood at “Little Steel”.
Around the negotiating tables that brought together Labor and Corporate Mangers came agreements that changed not only the lives of American families, but made the United States the envy of the world. As GM’s Charles Kettering, Chairman of General Motors, noted in his time that “the world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” And it is interesting to note that there were more that 11 million labor union members on corporate America’s payrolls during the 1940’s and 50’s, and these workers helped make this nation the greatest nation in the history of mankind.
Even in democracy’s darkest hours, when most of Europe had mourned the loss of its freedom, and was under the marching heels of Hitler’s army, America, yes, America provided the world with a gleam of light, of hope. The man who would enslave the world, and his Fascist madmen, inevitably felt the deadly sting on a united America.
When the challenge appears formidable, our nation and its leaders have always responded. Presidents did not have to “practice being `presidential’.’’ They were ready when called upon to act. I can still hear the scratchy sounds of the words of FDR coming from the radio as he addressed the nation during the dark days of the Great Depression. Those words ring clearly now as when they were uttered. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Or who can forget FDR’s opening statement on Dec. 8, 1941, which began, “December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy…”
A united nation, whose army still relied on the horse-drawn artillery, rolled up their sleeves, and industry coked up their furnaces, and steel became tanks and ships and fighter planes and bombers and the weapons that would defeat what was considered an undefeatable Nazi Germany and an Imperial Japan.
Never again would we be caught off guard.
There have been other breathless moments – the Cold War, The Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and it goes on…
In the 1960’s a young, handsome senator named John F. Kennedy reminded us, “The most powerful single force in the world today is neither Communism or Capitalism…it is man’s eternal desire to be free and independent…”and he became our president. And he made us believe in his Camelot, that he would take us to the moon and beyond.
We reached the moon, but it all turned into a nightmare when the president who had challenged the nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
And now I am told by the woman who I must obey, that I must come to the TV set for the “Great Debate”.
I would rather stay here with my readers.
Tell me, my fellow Americans, why should I leave you to listen to and hear the jibbering Donald Trump or the equivocating Hillary Clinton have to say? Haven’t they said enough? Instead of offering words that will provide national cohesion, the two pull the country apart. Neither has really offered a single policy or a word of wisdom that will be remembered down through the decades.
But, then there’s NBC’s Lester Holt – and he’s definitely worth listening to.
Before I end this post: I have noticed that in some sectors of social media there is an outcry for a return to “nationalism”, the evil that follows those lamentable individuals who believe that refugees should not step on US soil and those who were born elsewhere should go elsewhere. I remember the thoughtful words of Albert Einstein who noted, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
Tom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess. Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!