Wednesday, March 11, 2009

About Your Blogger, Friends of 1776

First, a confession. I think you can understand it. When I came to America in 1946, except for my parents and a couple of obscure relatives in California, the rest of my roots were left in the debris of post-World War II Europe.

I strongly envied those whose roots went back considerably in this country. When people would describe great-grandparents, for instance, I wanted to know a lot more about their family history. I hope they were not offended. Most answers were modest and friendly. My interest was genuine and has increased over the years. Every family has an interesting story.

I came here from Germany and England. Therefore I was an immigrant and a foreigner with a strong British accent. The concept of “immigrant” has always been difficult for me. The term “emigrant” is easier, although both are intrinsically linked together.

I was born in Berlin, Germany. My father was a diplomatic and political correspondent in the newspaper industry. Therefore, politics are certainly in my genes.

The Nazis put an end to my father’s career. My twin brother and I were sent to England for safety. With no language fluency, family, or friends, we were put into the care of foster parents who lived a comfortable life in Harrow, a close-in London suburb.

My brother and I did not leave England for more than seven years. We lived through bombs, air raid shelters, rationing, rockets – the effects of World War II. I describe myself as a blitz kid.

To this day, I am indebted to America, particularly its Merchant Marine, for bringing necessary foodstuffs to us. Maybe we thought cod liver oil was disgusting, but orange juice was delicious.

The closing days of World War II produced for me a sense of wonder. Everything felt as if it was going to change. I was very lucky. The schools I attended for years in England were outstanding. Of course, we all became super little patriots. History was inspirational and fascinating. It wasn’t just kings and queens. It described what it meant to be British.

I was enrolled in an American high school in the fall of 1946. That didn’t last long. The different educational systems in the U.S. and England had the result that I never did graduate from high school. Instead, I was sent to college in Washington, D.C. after the war.

Washington was truly the center of the universe, holding all the power and all the cash. We know that’s not really true today.

Later, as an adult, I worked on the Hill at the Library of Congress. I was seeing American history on a daily, casual basis. Mount Vernon and Virginia were pleasant excursions.

When I came to Southern California, the federal government seemed far away.

California provided its own colorful history – its missions, the Gold Rush, the San Francisco earthquake, and the exciting aerospace industry. I’m glad that I was part of that amazing scientific mission to land on the moon.

Today, Bexen Press is our incorporated business and Friends of 1776 is part of it. We have for some years been actively involved in presenting position papers to the public sector: commissions, local government, and federal agencies in several Southern California counties. There have been many very significant developments – transit, habitat, long-range planning for roads and air travel, “quality of life” issues such as air pollution.

When I had been in the U.S. for fifty years, 1996, this happy occasion was celebrated, where else, but in the Washington, D.C. area.

How could I make half a century of American citizenship really meaningful?

What could be better than studying the beginning of America as a nation, the incredible decade of 1776 when we fought and won a bitter war for our freedom, wrote and put into place a lasting constitution, and elected our first president. After all, I did have an M.S. in Library Science, so research was familiar to me. I’ve very glad I made this decision.

How important is 1776 to you? That’s why I’d like to have your comments and opinions. I know they are worthwhile.

Please join me on our exciting American adventure. --Renata Breisacher Mulry

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