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What's Changed since 1951? Thanksgiving then and now.

In my November newsletter, as is my habit, I always end up with upcoming events. For Nov. 8th, I reminded everyone that it would be election day and you should exercise your right to vote. One of my employees had not voted in over 12 years. My encouragement worked as he cast a ballot after my entreaty to vote. I commented that the new president elect, whoever it may be deserves our support. At that time it was widely believed that Hillary Clinton would be the victor. The fact that Donald Trump won, doesn’t change my call for unilateral support.

I understand that some people may feel wronged, but it doesn’t change the fact that this great democracy that we live in has an electoral decision.

Many of you know that I am a child of an immigrant from Germany. Judge Antonio Scalia felt that being an immigrant’s child gave him a special appreciation for the United States of America. I agree with him. This Thanksgiving, I would like to relate a very relevant story of my Dad.

My father came to this country in 1939. As a baker trained in Germany, he easily got jobs at several German style bakeries in New York City. Most of the other bakers were German so most of their conversation was in German.

As war broke out against Germany, there was much worry that there were German subversives among us. One night in 1942, the F.B.I. knocked on my father’s door and gave him 10 minutes to gather his belongings. He was taken to a holding building and two days later, sent to an internment camp in North Dakota. There he was made to work on the railroad tracks that would bring supplies to the west coast. After 20 months, he was sent to Kansas City and then given passage back to New York. Not so easy to get a job at that point. In 1951, he became a citizen. 

My Dad loved to sing. He belonged and became the President of a German American singing group in 1970. I will never forget the words he wrote in their annual journal that year. After thanking sponsors and volunteers, he said the ultimate thank you belongs to our adopted nation, the United States of America. “We thank you for the bountiful opportunities you lay before us and the freedom to sing the songs of our homeland without the fear of reprisal.”

I believe Dad could have easily felt wronged and held a grudge but instead not a day went by, that he wasn’t thankful he was allowed to become an American. He never missed a vote and I remember many heated discussions with friends and neighbors over many of the candidates.

We should all take a moment this Thanksgiving to think of that first Thanksgiving. A group of immigrants left their homeland for religious and political freedom. They felt a deep gratitude to their God for the opportunity and gifts they had received. Isn’t it still the same today? Thank God and thanks to the United States of America.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Rich Reinwald

1 Response

M Romer
M Romer

November 22, 2016

Thank you for sharing this memory…..Happy Thanksgiving to you and your staff.

Reinwalds always the best…

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