Thanksgiving 1951: Delayed Pilgrims

I was born in the short Summer of Love to parents who endured long Winters of Hate in madness-torn Hungary. My parents came to this country in 1951 after spending about seven years in a Dispaced Persons (DP) camp in Austria: a place with little hope, food, shelter, clothing, heat. Hungarians each, they lived through the European Depression (which dwarfed what happened in the U.S.) and then the horrors of World War II. My parents met in that camp, eventually got married and had two children, a girl and then a boy.

My parents could have gone anywhere in the world. Through all the hell they experienced, they worked hard to come to only one place on earth, the last refuge of freedom in the world: America. Here they are, on November 22, 1951. The Wilmington New Journal’s caption: City DPs (Delayed Pilgrims) to Give Thanks:

From Last Import

From left to right: two of my maternal aunts who journeyed here with my parents; my brother Julius; my father Julius Sr; my mother Laura; and my sister Laura (yes, my parents named their first born children after themselves).

In the DP camp, my parents had practically nothing. I never understood why they would have children amid such ruin and despair: the trauma alone of war and persecution and starvation must have been overwhelming. Now that I have a child of my own I understand why: a child is a gem from the future, a kindling of hope.

When you give thanks today, think of the people who endure, every day, terror, starvation, evil government, wrath, disease and despair.

After thinking of all the pain there is in the world, look at the picture of my family. It’s not something we see everyday. But there it is: the beautiful result of laboring your hope into a dream and your dream into a moment of pure gold. If there’s gold on your Turkey today it’s the color of someone’s difficult dream.

Think good thoughts, as hard as that may be.

Happy Thanksgiving, my brothers and sisters.

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