As I reflect on 2010, one of the highlights was teaching about the origins of the American Thanksgiving tradition. The essay in simple English talked about the flight of the Pilgrims from England, Europe, in search of freedom. I was not convinced my students understood.

A Hmong refugee woman in the front row began to comment. Slowly she began to talk. I remember when I was five years old hiding in the jungles of Laos and eating the leaves off the trees. We were always hungry. We had to walk ten days in the rain to a big river that would carry us to a port and to America.

I asked another young 25ish woman who is married to a 50 year old man. What brought you to America and to marry an older man who is divorced. She easily replied, “How else could I come and live near my mother? A younger man would tire of me and leave me.”

Those immigrants understood the story of Thanksgiving in ways many Americans never even dream about. They work minimal wage jobs and come to evening classes so their children will have a hope and a future.

Last week a young man shot 19? people and a congress woman because ??? Perhaps we have lessons to learn about freedom from the immigrants.

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