This I Believe

Karina - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on May 16, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that my dad is a hero. I was born in El Salvador in 1973. As a young child I learned to tell the difference between gunshots from AK- 47 and M-16 rifles. M-16 rifles were used by the army and the AK- 47 were used by the guerrilla during the Salvadorian civil war. The guerrilla killed many of the haciendas owners, including the owner of “La Loma”. “La Loma” was the hacienda where my father worked as a bookkeeper. My father lost his job. Then he took a loan, rented some land and planted corn. The guerilla took over that place where my father planted his corn. My father lost his corn and my uncles lost their tractors and other farming machinery.

Our family nightmare had just begun. It was 1984 when we lost almost everything. My uncles teamed up with the army in order to find their tractors and machinery. It was a dangerous mission. My uncle Ramiro was so excited when they found his new John Deer. He ran to hug his tractor even though he had been advised not to touch anything. The tractor blew up; it had a bomb inside. The explosion left my uncle with marks all over his body. He lost most of his teeth and a part of his upper lip. His nose and mouth were united.

When my uncle was released from the hospital 3 months later, we all moved to a different city. We were scared. My father did not have a job and we were hungry. Some days we only had tortillas and tomatoes to eat. My father also needed to pay the loan he took for the corn that never grew. That is when he decided to move to the USA. He decided to risk his life. He decided to cross the border. He decided to break a law to feed his 3 hungry children. When he got here, he worked very hard as a painter and once again we had food at our table, clothes and shoes.

Sometimes I cry at night when I think of the people who are here illegally. People seen by so many as criminals because they crossed the border; they broke a law to feed their hungry families. I also thank the Lord because my dad came in the 80’s when it was possible to apply for a green card.

My dad paid a lot of money to lawyers and waited patiently for about six years before we could all be together. We all entered the United States of America on June 27, 1991 as legal residents.

I didn’t know any English back then. I went to high school and graduated in June 1994. I became a USA citizen on June 27, 1996. I graduated from the University of North Carolina in December 2001. I hold a bachelors degree in Business Administration. I believe that I have accomplished all these goals thanks to my dad who is a hero, whom one day risked his life to give me a better future.