Threedonia friends and family, I am going to give you a history lesson. Not that any of you need it, but I shall tell a short story of a true American patriot. Not a hero, but a simple man who lived his life productively with God as his lighthouse in the midst of darkness. Grandpa John or Ivan was born in a small southern Russian village named Frank, Russia around 1880. When Grandpa John was 18 or so, he and Grandma John (Mrs. Ivan there) being 100% German were starting to feel the pressure of unrest and prejudice because of their German-ness. As we all know the Russians didn’t care much for the Germans. This, even though the contingent my grandparents were with in Russia had been invited to live and farm there by the wishes of Russian Queen Catherine the Great. Those days were gone, and the countryside was rife with rumors of war and injustice everywhere. They and other Ivans, Johanns, Fritzes, etc., set sail in an old commercial sailing ship to come to America. My grandparents had a two year old boy, my uncle, who died on board ship and was buried at sea. They landed in Canada (blasted Canadian roots!) and worked in Canada on a farm for a couple of years while their visas were being ”bureaucratized” for entry into the United States.
This man was my grandfather on my mom’s side. He was the predecessor of fritz8945 (that’s me). Even though I was not named for him, there were at least 8944 Fritzes before me, or variations of Fritz; such names as Fred, Frederick, Freddie, Froedrick (in the Frankenstein branch of the family tree). Every one in the family, except grandpa had a form of the name Fritz somewhere lurking in their names, or not too far off.
Fast forward a few years and the rest of the Johanns, Ivans, Johns, and Fritzes, Freds, and Fredericks were born, six in total. By this time they had all settled in Lincoln, Nebraska in an area of town populated pretty much by only other Germans from Russia. They were pretty much frowned upon by the other good people of Lincoln not because of their German roots, but because they were from Russia. They had not an ounce of Russian blood, as all were German, but that didn’t matter. The people in town, my mother told me, called them a variety of names usually ending with the derogatory “dirty Russian” (pronounced Rooshian).
My Grandpa never learned to drive, nor owned a car. He walked to and from downtown Lincoln everyday for the rest of his life to get a newspaper. He worked as a carpenter for the C.B.& Q. Railroad (this being the forerunner of the BN Railroad for which I worked for 20 years). His English was broken but understandable, being as he was self taught by listening to the radio and reading the newspaper.My Grandparents became American citizens, and were very proud of our country, flying the American Flag in front of their house everyday until their deaths at the ages of 88.
Fast forward to World War II,and my uncle Fritz (again a form of Fred, Frederick, Freddie, etc.) went to Germany of all places to fight against the evil Adolf Hitler and his cronies. This is the man whom I was named after. He fought blood Germans, even though he was a blood German. He fought this battle because of who his father was, a true American.
God was good to my Grandparents and Fritz, the warrior, came home after the war alive and well. My Grandpa helped build the Lutheran Church in which the entire family worshiped. That church is still used for services to this day.
Grandma passed away and for the next 6 months Grandpa continued to walk to downtown Lincoln for a newspaper everyday. The American flag continued to be flown in front of the house. Within those 6 months he became ill and died of pneumonia in the hospital, fully desiring to be in Heaven with his wife of about 60 years and the Lord. After his death, the family remaining in Lincoln flew that American flag at half-mast in honor of a true American patriot.
Grandpa John, Johann or Ivan and Grandma John, Johann or Ivan were never to themselves, ever anything but Americans. They weren’t German-American, nor Russian American, nor German-Russian-American, but 100% American. They were proud of the country that allowed them the free choices the founding fathers set forth in the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution and the freedom to worship the God of their fathers. They didn’t have Medicare, they never accepted welfare nor partook of any other social program handouts. They gave, quite literally, until it hurt, but reaped the blessings of their gifts. They always gave to our country and never took from it.
God bless America, the founding fathers, my grandparents and those many among us here who may have similar stories. All of us here fighting to keep the America we love safe and free.
This is a post I wrote for http://www.threedonia.com/about a week ago.