Sunday, July 04, 2010

Undocumented, Maybe Deported But Still A Hero!

I’m thinking a lot today about James McCrory, who, undocumented, maybe even deported, landed in this country about 235 years and three days ago today.

Irish, his kind, were vilified by the conservative right in this country through the 1930’s, just as many vilify Hispanics immigrants today. Like many Hispanics today, he almost immediately went to war for this country.600

Like me he settled in North Carolina, about an hours drive west of where I live today. He almost immediately enlisted for a tour in the fight for Independence and then re-enlisted. A success we’re celebrating today.

His tour included the battles of Germantown, Brandywine and Guilford
Courthouse and as an Ensign, a stint in Valley Forge, as one of General Washington's body guards, all along today’s US 202. He re-enlisted and fought here in the Southeast until he was captured by Tarleton’s Dragoons and imprisoned for four months at Wilmington to the south and east of where I live now.

Paroled after four months, he then took a British officer prisoner and turned him over to the American Army. After the war he relocated again, eventually settling in Alabama where he died 65 years after arriving in this country.

James McCrory is my Grandmother’s, Grandmother’s , Grandfather. So if my count is right he’s the Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather to my Grandsons.

He arrived on this continent a century and a half after some of my other ancestors. I’m also not unique , I read on that 60% of Americans have Revolutionary War era roots.

James risked his life for a land he barely knew. But I wonder how welcome he’d be today? I doubt he’d associate with the Tea Party of today or settle in Arizona. And even if he was a Republican, I bet he’d be a progressive in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt.

But I guess the people who formed this country were essentially all progressives, seeking change and making things better. No status quo NIMBY’s then although it was not nearly as tidy as we like to think it was. Plenty of partisan gridlock.

I’m proud and grateful to be among the many descendents of James McCrory and grateful today in particular for his sacrifices. Here’s to all of the immigrant “James’s” fighting for this country’s values today and who I fear may not feel nearly as welcomed or honored here as he did.

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