In addition to the excitement of receiving America the Beautiful yesterday, we had our first play practice for “America!” It was a full day.
“America!” is a production of our local Homeschool Dramatic Society. This year for the first time, we are rehearsing via Zoom for the first week. Doing that was a last minute decision after key production members were exposed to COVID and had to be in quarantine. Zoom is working beautifully. It is such a joy to get to see the actors’ and actresses’ faces at the same time. We miss being together but I believe the rehearsals are actually going better this way.
“America!” tells the story of individual immigrants who entered America through the Ellis Island immigration station in New York Harbor. The stories came from the Ellis Island Oral History Project. The National Park Service began this project in 1973. NPS staff members and volunteers conducted, recorded, and then transcribed interviews with more than 1,700 immigrants, many of whom had been children when they came and were quite elderly at the time of the interviews. Interviewers asked the immigrants why they came and what it was like after they arrived.
In this play, HDS actors portray real individuals who once told their stories for the Ellis Island project. The play’s immigrants came to America from Hungary, the Netherlands, Sicily, Italy, Russia, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Ukraine, Armenia, France, Poland, Germany, Scotland, and Iraq. All came for a better life here than what they left at home. Actors also perform folk dances and/or sing folk songs from Hungary, Denmark, Slovakia, Armenia, Italy, Greece, and Ireland.
Below is a play excerpt spoken by a homeschooled girl who portrays a real immigrant from Poland who told her story to a NPS interviewer.
Here, if you want to be something or you want to become someone, you have a chance, you have opportunities. But over there you just . . . this is the way you remain, and that’s it. No . . . no chance of . . . of doing anything. People live with the rain coming in, and we had no mattresses. You sleep on straw. That’s how you sleep. And, uh, no dishes. Once in a while, if you had something to eat, they gave it to you in your hand. No dishes. No nothing. And we left. We had nothing to sell anyway, nothing to give. It was an awful thing. Yes, I lived through an awful lot.
And when we got here, we had a nice apartment on the East Side. We lived near . . . I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Bronx . . . there’s a park there, Crotona Park. So my father says, “Come, let’s go. We’ll all go to the park.” It was the Fourth of July. As we were sitting on the bench there, they start to shoot the fireworks. And we got crazy. We started to run. My father says, “What’s the matter with you?” We said, “There’s a war! There’s a war! They’re shooting already! There’s a war!” We were so frightened. We didn’t understand. It took a long time until the first scare, you know, left us.
God bless America. Nothing like America. I’d give my life for America. Yes. A wonderful country.
I am grateful to be involved in “America!” for the same reasons that I wrote America the Beautiful.
The play excerpt above tells why American history is important, why America is important, and why we must work diligently to preserve its virtues and correct its shortcomings. We must continue to provide a beacon of hope for the people of the world. Once here, we Christians must share with them the eternal beacon of hope.
I am confident that God is using homeschooling to bless America. Thank you for homeschooling and for praying.
First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers,
intercession, and thanksgiving
be made in behalf of all people,
for kings and all who are in authority,
so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life
in all godliness and dignity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2