A union of diverse people

As a history buff, the more I learn, the more I question things, and the more I dig into the archives to find answers.

On my paternal side, I am only the second-generation American. My paternal grandparents fled Austria/Serbia and arrived in the US in 1905, post-Civil War era. My great-great uncle was Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The assassination of he and his wife, Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg, is what sparked the start of WWI.

My grandparents lived under Communist rule. They fled to this country because of what this country stands for: Freedom, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They changed their surname somewhere along their immigration quest so they could rid themselves of the stigma they felt was associated with it. When my dad was an adult, he changed that surname to a more ‘acceptable’ Anglo-Saxon name. While it was never discussed, you could feel the shame that the original surname caused.

On my maternal side, my ancestors include multiple Mayflower passengers, original settlers in the Colonies, and those who helped shape this country along the Eastern Seaboard. They came from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Ancestors dating back many centuries ago, were from Spain, France and Germany. My ancestors fought in every war throughout the history of this world.

During the War Between the States, aka ‘Civil War,’ my ancestors fought on both the Federal and Confederate sides. I cannot imagine the angst of family fighting family for what they each felt were ‘just’ (meaning justified) causes, and I guarantee that neither side risked their lives over slavery. Slavery was an issue in both the North and South, but was not ‘the’ issue of the war. Both immigrated to the United States in the mid to late 1850’s. Neither one owned slaves. . . . After the war, the Federal ancestor returned to farming in New York and the Confederate ancestor, a fireman in Memphis, TN.

The point of this [letter] is please stop and think about the lies and propaganda being spewed for the sole purpose of creating discord and hostilities in this country. Don’t ever take what you hear on mainstream media or ‘on the streets’ as the gospel truth. Research, research and do more research. Question everything you are hearing. Ask for documented proof of what you are hearing . . . and I don’t mean an editorial written by someone. I mean, ask for actual documents from that time in history. Look at them, study them, and learn from them.

We need to realize that it’s not the inanimate object causing the pain, but words or behavior that we associate with the ‘object.’ Instead of being held captive to the pain, acknowledge the hurt, learn the truth and then leave it behind you. All this hate and violence is unnecessary and uncalled for. We’re supposed to be a civilized country . . . yet people in this country are acting like barbarians.

My ancestors are a blend of Catholics and Protestants; Communist and European; czars, rulers and every day kind of people; many generations of war veterans with some where brother fought brother; wealthy all the way down to impoverished. That’s just the tip of the iceberg on how I would describe just my genealogy. Yet, somehow, all that got mixed together and good things came from the union of so many diverse people that came from all corners of the world. There’s no reason a diverse population like what we have in this country can’t get all mixed up together and have good things come from it as well.

Eileen Zoellner
Johnson City, TN (and reader of the Rappahannock News)

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