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We are all immigrants

Kirk Douglas
Tuesday, May 26, 1998.

We are all immigrants.

I was brought up in a small town in upstate New York---Amsterdam. I lived in the last house on 46 Eagle street, next to the mills and the railroad tracks. Both of my parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants, and we spoke Yiddish at home. A Lithuanian family lived next door and they spoke Lithuanian. Across the street were two Italian families, the Naples and the Crosettis, of course, they spoke Italian. Farther up the street was a Polish family, the Uskaritis. They had a plump, pretty daughter and we soon learned the Polish expression---Dime, Buse---Give me a kiss. The Italians taught us, Vine que---Come here and A Fongul---Which I won't translate.

All of us kids went to the same school, Fourth Ward. We all learned to speak English without the accents our parents never lost. As a matter of fact, we taught our mothers and fathers to speak better English. Please don't handicap your children by supporting bilingual education. The risk is that they may never be fluent in any language.

Our parents came here because this is the land of opportunity. Here, you have a chance. They were proud to become American. But they also took pride in their backgrounds. That doesn't interfere with becoming an American. But first, it is your responsibility to learn English. In one year children can learn enough of the language to begin the study of our history. They will learn that this is a country of immigrants. And the influx of many cultures, Asian, Hispanic, makes our country stronger. Give them a chance to grow up to become good Americans. Fight bilingual education.