Immigrant Assimilation 80 Years Ago vs. the L.A. School Board Today - My Mother's Story

Steve Cotton
As I watched the testimony before the L.A. School Board by the bereaved mother of a young man slain by an illegal immigrant, my own immigrant roots on my mother's side of the family came to mind.

My cousin just sent me some mementos from my recently-deceased uncle Frank (my mother's youngest brother), and among them was a little book that I had almost forgotten.  It is a poignant study of how immigrants of the 1920s embraced their cultural heritage and, at the same time, embraced their new country.  I can remember my mother reading some passages from it to me when I was quite young and being impressed and surprised that my mother had once spoken Czech, even though she was a second generation American.

The book, in Czechoslovakian, is "A First Reader for the Czech Catholic Schools of America, for Sweet Youth-Illustrated" (thanks to Google Translate, quite an impressive tool).  My mother attended a Czech Catholic grade school in South Omaha (to this day a strong ethnic Slavic neighborhood), and this reader was one of her textbooks.  I understand that the rest of the curriculum was delivered in English (maybe with a Czech accent), and I am confident that it included a strong dose of exceptionalist American history.

I can only imagine the hullabaloo that would arise today if the "Hispanic Catholic Schools of America" insisted that all "Sweet Youth" be required to be fluent in Spanish, as well as English.  That aside, I am sure of one thing -- St. Wenceslaus School in Omaha was not advocating for the restoral of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and reparations from the United States for taking the English/French side in the wars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  My mother died a proud American, proud as well of her Czech-Croatian heritage.

A lesson from those times of significant in-migration might be summarized in the Preface of the Reader by author Sister Mary Vita, O.S.F.-"Ve spojeni je sila!" which translates "In conjunction strength!"  Would that we could embrace that sentiment in these divisive times!

Steve Cotton is a life-long conservative, making his living in the telecommunications industry, with the last 18 years as a senior strategic management consultant and entrepreneur.
As I watched the testimony before the L.A. School Board by the bereaved mother of a young man slain by an illegal immigrant, my own immigrant roots on my mother's side of the family came to mind.

My cousin just sent me some mementos from my recently-deceased uncle Frank (my mother's youngest brother), and among them was a little book that I had almost forgotten.  It is a poignant study of how immigrants of the 1920s embraced their cultural heritage and, at the same time, embraced their new country.  I can remember my mother reading some passages from it to me when I was quite young and being impressed and surprised that my mother had once spoken Czech, even though she was a second generation American.

The book, in Czechoslovakian, is "A First Reader for the Czech Catholic Schools of America, for Sweet Youth-Illustrated" (thanks to Google Translate, quite an impressive tool).  My mother attended a Czech Catholic grade school in South Omaha (to this day a strong ethnic Slavic neighborhood), and this reader was one of her textbooks.  I understand that the rest of the curriculum was delivered in English (maybe with a Czech accent), and I am confident that it included a strong dose of exceptionalist American history.

I can only imagine the hullabaloo that would arise today if the "Hispanic Catholic Schools of America" insisted that all "Sweet Youth" be required to be fluent in Spanish, as well as English.  That aside, I am sure of one thing -- St. Wenceslaus School in Omaha was not advocating for the restoral of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and reparations from the United States for taking the English/French side in the wars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  My mother died a proud American, proud as well of her Czech-Croatian heritage.

A lesson from those times of significant in-migration might be summarized in the Preface of the Reader by author Sister Mary Vita, O.S.F.-"Ve spojeni je sila!" which translates "In conjunction strength!"  Would that we could embrace that sentiment in these divisive times!

Steve Cotton is a life-long conservative, making his living in the telecommunications industry, with the last 18 years as a senior strategic management consultant and entrepreneur.