Boston Globe Op-Ed: Vartan Gregorian on Welcoming New US Citizens to the ‘Crusade Against Ignorance’
President John F. Kennedy knew firsthand that America was and continues to be a nation of immigrants. He wrote a book on the subject, entitled “A Nation of Immigrants.” Later, as the president of the United States, he was a constant champion of immigrants and refugees, never forgetting that he, too, came from a family of immigrants. He laid the foundation for the Immigration Act of 1965, which placed the American Dream within reach of people from every nation on earth.
Throughout our history, we have had great leaders, idealists, and patriots who rejected the idea of a constricted America, defined by bloodlines, religion, and race.
For example, in 1858, Abraham Lincoln argued that America’s ideals were available to all who understood the principle set forth in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” He reminded the newcomers to America that they have “a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are.”
The founders of our nation did not claim that they had created a “more perfect union,” but rather they had created a framework and foundation for a just society, setting guiding principles for future generations. That is not to say that the ideals our country set forth were always upheld. Throughout our history, men and women have fought bitterly, and occasionally violently, over the promise of America, its laws, and its institutions, and have sacrificed their lives to preserve this country. Like you, America did not and does not rest on its past laurels...