Our country as we know it is really young, when you put it into a historical perspective. I have traveled all over the world, continue to do so, and am awestruck by cultures in other countries.
I take these trips for a variety of reasons. But the top three in no particular order is that I enjoy traveling; it gives me a broad view of the world; and helps me make decisions when I advise my clients on how and where to invest their money from a global perspective.
These experiences are enjoyable and valuable. Yet when I return back to the United States, it always makes me very thankful as I reflect on our own country and all we have here.
Our country really is a “melting pot” that makes us truly unique.
All of us living in the United States today got here as a result of things out of our control, but helped forge us into a great nation. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful.
While there is some ambiguity and controversy surrounding the details of the initial settlement of the United States, the diversity of our country is what makes it so great.
There is no doubt the Indigenous Peoples or “Native Americans” arrived here long before everyone else and, ultimately, got the “short end of the stick”.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus an Italian explorer “sailed the oceans blue” and is credited by the history books for discovering the America’s while searching for a trade route to the Far East. He had no idea that the North and South American continents even existed. In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed at is what is now known as St. Augustine (located in present day Florida).
In 1587, 120 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island (located in present day North Carolina) after Sir Walter Raleigh established it in 1585. When a supply ship returned from England in 1590 the entire colony had vanished. To this day no one knows why.
In 1607, Jamestown (located in present day Virginia) was permanently settled. Some scholars say that in 1619 Africans came to Jamestown; about 50 men, women, and children aboard a Portuguese slave ship that had been captured in the West Indies and then brought to the Jamestown region.
Around 1620, the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock (located in present day Massachusetts) after risking their lives to escape religious persecution in England. There they met and were aided by a Native American, known as Squanto, who helped ensure its success. The relationship and harvest celebration that ensued became as what we now know as “Thanksgiving Day”.
Starting in the late 1800’s and continuing into the early 1900’s, there was a mass migration from Mexico, Asia, and Eastern and Southern Europe.
Ellis Island in New York, where the Statue of Liberty stands, was opened in 1892. As the United States' busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954, it was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the U.S.
All of these searchers, explorers, and immigrants from around the world for the last several hundred years came for a variety of reasons. With the exception of slaves from Africa, they came for one or a combination of three main motives; to escape religious persecution, to escape political tyranny, or for economic reasons.
Yet, they all had one thing in common. They wanted to experience Freedom.
During this holiday season, I encourage everyone to put aside their differences and embrace the fact that we do live in a great and amazing country.