How are you doing on going through those boxes stored in all sorts of places that hold the clues to your identity that was discussed in the previous 4/4/2014 post on genealogical research? I hope at least you are giving it as much time as you can.
And what a great time to be reminded of that project and quest to find out your heritage than on this day that gave birth to our nation, The 4th of July, 1776. Take a moment and ponder how many people became free from tyranny, free to have a voice in what they believed in and how they practiced their faith.
While we celebrate this day, let’s take a moment to reflect on how our ancestors arrived on this great land we call America. Mine like yours came from many different countries. My father’s parents came from Lithuania. My mother’s came from Italy. Before organizations like Ancestry.com and National Geographic came on the scene to help us create family trees and do DNA research, all we had were what records, papers, pictures, keepsakes, stories, both written and verbally handed down, that gave us a clue to our heritage.
When I stated our family museum, I tried my best to display as much of what I could that was saved, but I was not doing justice to it all. So eventually the museum expanded into another part of the hall, located under a windowless slanted eave, about 8 feet deep by 8 feet wide. That became the Grandparents Museum. I will blog in full about the collections there at a later date. But for now, I want to encourage you to gather as much as you and other family members have saved and bring them together at whoever’s home has the space to give your family’s heritage is due respect.
I also want to promote this websites to further your knowledge of what is out there that can be of great assistance to you to investigate from whence you came. I hope it inspires and even raises your spirits if at any time you doubt your legacy, family traditions, customs and culture. http://www.ancestry.com/, https://familysearch.org/, http://usgenweb.org/, http://www.ellisisland.org/, http://www.statueofliberty.org/,
I also want to share these images and information on Ellis Island. If you have not visited this valued place that honors the courage of those immigrants that wanted a new world for their families, do so.
Many years ago, my daughter Tiffeni and I went to Ellis Island. We had little knowledge of my nana’s experience when she came to America. It is very unfortunate that little was saved other than verbal stories, some photographs and much misinformation. When we visited Ellis Island, its was just beginning to restore the buildings and create the data bases they have today. So we wandered through this massive building, many places closed off due to construction and restoration. When we entered the Great Hall on the mezzanine level, the expanse was breathtaking. Just at that moment, a choral group on the other end of the hall started to sing “God Bless America.” I started to cry as I envisioned my nana with her sister, clutching their small children and everything they owned as they filed through inspections lines along with thousands of other immigrants waiting for their turn to be either accepted into America or sent back to the country they left.
Before we got back on the ferry to return to New York City, we stopped at the American Immigrant Wall of Honor. As the day got colder and the misty air wetter, we encouraged each other to locate any of the names of our relatives that passed through Ellis Island. We could find only one, that of my mother’s oldest brother, Michael Albano. We were thrilled. We took pictures of his name, often wiping off the rain from the camera lens.
As we stood on the ferry, our eyes focused on the Statue of Liberty. We tried to imagine how our ancestors felt when they first saw the statue, her majestic figure holding up the light of freedom they must of have felt in their souls. Though her stoic expression may have casted some fear and doubt, her patient stance told the immigrants to feel proud of themselves for they endured rough crossings, unpleasant conditions, yet still strong and capable of starting a new life.
So thank you, nana and the rest of my ancestors, along with my hubby’s Keith’s family who came from Norway and Germany, for if it were not for their bravery and courage, we would not be here today. So celebrate your freedom and feel proud of our America, for we are and will always be the best and strongest nation in the world. Have a wonderful 4th.
FYI: A word about National Geographic’s Genographic Project. Since 2005, their cutting-edge technology and use of advanced DNA analysis and working with indigenous communities to help answer fundamental questions about where humans originated and how we came to populate the Earth, is enabling us to shine a powerful new light on our collective past. By participating in the latest phase of this real-time scientific project, you can learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. You will also help support the Genographic Legacy Fund, which works to conserve and revitalize indigenous cultures around the world. Visit: http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/