another inspired moment . . .
One hundred years ago this day -- July 22, 1918 -- my grandfather, William Landsmark, landed on US shores. A young man alone, he arrived speaking Dutch; his English secondary.
Putting the brutishness of colonial rule and enforced poverty behind him, braving torpedo-infested World War I waters to work his passage to New Bedford from the #Caribbean isle of Statia (St. Eustatius), he was bound for New York. For the first time in twenty years, he would see the mother separated from him since he was seven.
For years I've re-staged his landing for my mind's theatre—his, and the other embarkations and arrivals of each of my grandparents; their first on-shore steps in the harbor lights of New Bedford and New York. Had each of them not dared to dream, I simply would not exist.
To this day, when I am weighed down in need of answers, I think back on the struggles of my forebears. How they got ovah. My soul looks back in wonder how they made it through.
A historian, I am regularly called to task for “celebrating” the history of the African Diaspora—particularly in these tremulous “take back America” times.
I think of Grandpa a century ago this day—perhaps this very hour. A stranger in a strange land, he is a young man alone and afraid. He does not use words like immigrant or alien to define himself. He is Jane Van Ter Pool’s son. Guided by the compass of her love; he makes his way to her embrace.
How can I/we do any less than hold him—all our Grandpas and Grandmas—high in remembrance?
We are the promises they made to themselves. We are their dreams.
© Janus Adams 2018