This I Believe

Matthew - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

When I was growing up, my grandparents told me about where my ancestors came from and what life was like when they were my age. Though it was easy and convenient to tune out those stories, I’m glad I learned to listen. The lessons revealed to me have served as motivation and inspiration, as well as a source of hope.

The stories were about my Italian ancestors; they came to the Western Pennsylvania coalmines in order to work towards a better life in a new country. The United States at the time was filled with opportunity; however, their life was not one of ease. It always amazes me that my grandfather grew up in a house that had a dirt floor and no electricity. He never received more than an eighth-grade education. To me, this seemed like an unbearable way to live. Despite obstacles such as these, my grandfather and my grandmother worked hard, became middle-class Americans, and sent my aunt and mother to college. My parents built upon the opportunities given to them, and were able to provide me with a very comfortable upbringing filled with opportunities of my own.

My grandparents faced these challenges because they had no choice; but I believe they also wanted to improve their communities and their country because of a sense of obligation to their nation, their friends, and their children.

As the problems of our age become more complex and difficult, I wonder if I will be able to face the challenges of my day like my grandparents did many years ago. These problems are no longer based on local and national issues, but are now based on global issues as well. Solutions to these problems won’t come easy. With my grandparents as inspiration, I feel ready to rise up to meet these challenges, as they met the incredible challenges of the past. When the time arrives for my generation to take control, I feel confident that it will be motivated by the remarkable accomplishments of the people who’ve come before us. It will be our turn to accomplish great things.

This I believe.