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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

4 Responses

JAMES E CONLON
JAMES E CONLON

April 08, 2017

MY PARENTS CAME OVER FROM IRELAND IN THE ’20’S. LIFE HERE WAS HARD—EVEN THOUGH THEY SPOKE ENGLISH—IN A CERTAIN WAY—THE GOVERNMENT WAS NOT MUCH A HELP. BUT I AND MY FAMILY ARE HERE AND ARE HAPPY WE HAVE THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
IF THE LAST LINE ANNOYS ANYONE—-LIVE IN ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY—-THEY ALL HAVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS.

William Beato
William Beato

April 04, 2017

Rich, I enjoy reading your articles. As I just read in your" What’s changed since 1951", I’m also a second generation immigrant. My parents taught us to work hard and appreciate the country we live in, “The land of opportunity”. I was part of a family business, we all worked hard, and did very well trough the years. I say every day, thank you God for watching over us and giving us that opportunity.- We come all the way from “Massapequa”, as often as we can, you Folks have the best bakery we have ever found! Thank You, William Beato

Karen Reinwald-Brown
Karen Reinwald-Brown

December 05, 2016

So proud to see the Reinwald patriotic tradition lives on through the generations! My great grandfather, Johann Frederick Reinwald landed in NY in 1880. He was 12 yrs. old. He lived with an Aunt in Utica NY and apprenticed as a candy maker. (small world) John eventually moved to Venice Calif. in 1910. He became a Naturalized American citizen in 1936. His sons and grandson served in the US armed forces in WWI and WWII. He was proud to be an American.

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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