Only in America
I have had the privilege this week of spending time with some of the most heroic people in our community. They came from all backgrounds and varied in age from the young up to ninety-four.
They have traveled all over the world and some faced death on a regular basis while protecting our country and preserving our freedom.
They are our veterans.
As I listened to the exploits of these fine men and women a common theme continued to rise up in me.
They loved this country.
It was so refreshing to hear them speak of honor and duty, to hear of the heroic acts that allow us to keep our freedoms that so many today take for granted.
Time and again I heard a veteran state that the United States is the greatest country in the world.
There are many things that make this country great.
One of those is the american dream.
The idea that someone can start from very little and acquire so much.
Their stories are everywhere.
Some are well known.
Howard Schultz grew up in the Brooklyn projects before discovering and now leading Starbucks.
Sheldon Adelson grew up in tenement housing in Massachusetts, where he shared a bedroom with his parents and three siblings. He is now a Las Vegas hotel magnate purchasing the Sands hotel and casino and later the mega-resort the Venetian.
Oprah Winfrey spent the first six years of her life with her grandmother, wearing dresses made out of potato sacks. Now she is worth $2.7 billion.
Closer to home, before Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, he milked cows and sold magazines.
Only in America.
While listening to the veterans program at KHS this week I heard of another story wrapped in the spirit of what makes America great.
The story of a veteran of the United States Air Force and a former mayor of Kennett.
Astrachan didn’t speak on his military service, instead he provided the audience with a wonderful tribute to Kennett and a personal account of the American dream.
Astrachan was nine years old when he moved to Kennett. He didn’t know a soul in the city, was unable to speak a single word of English and yet at the age of twenty-five his friends and neighbors elected him Mayor of Kennett.
“My parents were born in Russia and they would look at each other and say, only in America. Only in America could something like this happen,” remembered Astrachan.
During his Senior High School class trip to Washington D.C., he and his classmates had the honor of meeting President Truman.
“Seventy years have passed since that day and I still have the awesome feeling that I had at that time,” recalled Astrachan. “I was seventeen years old, only in this country eight years, arrived and couldn’t speak a word of english, knew no one, and yet, here I was standing in the oval office of the White House listening to the President of the United States. Only in America. Only in America is such a thing possible.”
Astrachan continued,” I’m often asked what sort of a name is Astrachan. My answer is always it is an American name. America is made up of people whose names are Patterson, Dalton, Guerra, McAttee, Scott and Green. All these are American names. If anyone asks you what kind of name you have, you answer it’s an American name.”
Astrachan spoke of the many students that had graduated from Kennett High School and went on to do great things.
These included a United States Congressman, a C.I.A. Agent, a captain of a nuclear submarine, the editor of a ladies fashion magazine, and an internationally known singer/entertainer Sheryl Crow.
Astrachan reminds us of what these brave men and women fought for.
The American Dream.
That dream is alive and well and our military will continue to fight for it.
Kennett couldn’t ask for a better ambassador than Sol Astrachan.
I was fortunate to be in that audience and to be reminded that we are indeed the greatest country in the world.
See you out there.