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My Grandmother's Story of Immigration to America

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Immigrants have moved to America for hundreds of years to find a better lifestyle and more opportunities for economic growth. America was known as the “Land of the Free, with open land, and freedom for all. Immigrants have traveled from all over the world to live in America despite of the cost and danger of travel; for instance, physical pain, or even diseases. America has become known as a “melting pot, with all of the different races and ethnic groups combined into one. But many immigrants left their families and loved ones behind to come to America to live in a new, safer environment.

In the early 1600s, many immigrants, primarily from England, Western Europe, and Spain, arrived for land and freedom, but as the centuries passed, many immigrants from all over the world arrived for safety and opportunity. For an example, my grandmother, Oma, was born in Waldorf, Germany in 1927. This small village is just north of the Black Forest on the northeast side. When Oma was just a young girl, her biological mother moved to America, leaving Oma with her father and her Auntie Claira. In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, and in 1939, World War II was declared. Although Omas father was German, he was placed in a concentration camp in 1940, for speaking out in public. Only a year later, Oma was informed that her father had died of “natural causes, but he was most likely killed. Safety at this time was becoming harder and harder to find. 1942, while the U.S. army was attacking Germany from the west, the Soviets were coming from the east. The Soviets were destroying everything in sight, and would bomb multiple cities at a time. The house Oma was raised in was burnt to the ground, along with all of their possessions. They had nothing; no clothes, food, shelter, etc. As they wondered the streets the soldiers would harass Oma, and other young innocent women.

Auntie Claira, at this time realized Germany was no longer a safe place to live, especially for Oma. In 1947, when Oma was only 20 years old, Auntie Claira had finally saved enough money to send my grandmother to America for security and economic possibility. Many Immigrants turned to America, because it was a very large country, with a lot of available land that was very reasonably priced. In 1862, the Homestead Act was passed, which allowed the head of the household, (who had to be at least 21 years of age), to claim 160 acres of land. Each homesteader had to live on the land, build a home, make improvements, and farm for at least 5 years before they were eligible to “prove up”. A total fee of $18 was the only money required, but sacrifice and hard work exacted a different price from the hopeful settlers. Many people wanted this land, especially farmers, so they can grow crops, which put food on the table, and provided jobs for those in need. The climate in the mid-west was ideal for crops, such as corn, wheat, vegetables, and fruit. Many people came to America in search of religious and governmental freedoms that were not available to them in their country. Ruling dictators and monarchs had made the dream of independence impossible. They came and set up churches that allowed them to practice the religion in which they desired without fear of reprisal. They also established their towns and held elections to select the people they wanted to have a say in how they lived their lives.

Most settlers in America came for an equal chance in life. America was a new brave nation with much to offer, with the land, freedom, and power, which not many other countries had during these times. No mater what century we are in, people will always want security and opportunity, which will help continue to create a successful nation.

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