My Personal Dichotomy — a source of angst?

I wonder: am I a Polish American, or an American Polack? It seems a fair question. My grandfather and all my great grandparents came to the United States from Poland (or whatever had been Poland at one time, when they came over). What were they? Resoundingly, they were Polish. No doubt. Not even the hint of a doubt. They spoke Polish. They followed Polish traditions. They were religious as Poles are. The associated with other Poles, even when in this country.

What, them, am I? Well, I guess I am an American first. After all, that’s why the left family, friends, home, and their own culture, to come to America to give their children and their descendants a chance at a new life, a life in America, a life of freedom and opportunity, a new life, one unlike the lives they must have known.

Yet, when they came, though they adopted their new country by learning English, by becoming citizens, and by voting and having a say in things, they did not forget the “old ways.” They were proud of who they were and where they came from. And so am I. I can’t explain it, but I feel quite a connection. I am an American, but I am also a Pole, even though I’ve never set foot on Polish ground. I honor my background and the traditions of my ancestors, every day. I am proud of them, of what they accomplished, and of the opportunities they gave me. I have not forgotten. But even more so, I cannot forget. I can’t forget, just can’t.  And, in it all, I feel so fortunate, so connected to them, so lucky.

I am a Polish-American, and damned proud of it!

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