Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Quote by Garrison Keillor

I wanted to share a quote that I read in Immigrant Medicine (Walker & Barnett, Ed. 2007), particularly as the U.S. begins to resettle many Iraqi refugees. They are subjected to a lot of prejudice and yet have experienced real, recent, trauma as a result of the Iraq war. Although I may be preaching to the choir, I’d like to add my voice to those who are advocating on the behalf of this group of people. They are not terrorists. Many placed their lives at risk by working for American forces.

Garrison Keillor, Newsweek July 4, 1998

Heroes, all of them – at least they’re my heroes, especially the immigrants, especially the refugees. Everyone makes fun of New York cabdrivers who can’t speak English: they’re heroes. To give up your country is the hardest thing a person can do: to leave the old familiar places and ship out over the edge of the world to America and learn everything over again different than you learned as a child, learn the language that you will never be so smart funny in as your true language. It takes years to start to feel semi-normal. And yet people still come – Russia, Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos, Ethiopia, Iran, Haiti, Korea, Cuba, Chile, and they come on behalf of their children, and they come for freedom. Nor for our land (Russia is as beautiful), not for our culture (they have their own, thank you), not for our system of government (they don’t even know about it, may not even agree with it), but for freedom. They are heroes who make an adventure on our behalf, showing by their struggle how precious beyond words freedom is, and if we knew their stories, we could not keep back the tears.