In the voice of Antonio Licciardi - This photo reminds me of the times I spent fighting the war for my country, Italy. At just 16 years old, me and other young boys were told we had to go join the battle at the northern border of Italy facing Austria. Most of us had never held a weapon, let alone experience the cold weather of the north. Yet, there was nothing we could do - our country needed us. So, we barely had any training and were given a bag with a few essentials to carry along with us, food, water, a uniform, some medical supplies, and weapons. Most of us southerners did not last very long at all. We were becoming malnourished, sleep deprived, but worst of all we were hypothermic. The trenches were just extremely cold with all the snow and harsh weather of the winter. Our army was so desperate for what they considered “able men” that they tried to keep us there as long as possible. Everywhere around us men lay dead, their bodies being preserved in the snow. Eventually we were transported back to Sicily when our generals decided we had enough. A lot of us, myself included, required amputations to remove the dead limbs from our bodies. However, this did not mean that we were no longer able. A few months after my recovery, I was sent another enlistment notice in the mail. I was able to appeal to my local government and avoid being drafted again, but what crazy times those were. Most of my late childhood days were spent at the war, or being reminded of it at home. This photo reminds me of the conditions I faced while in the war, although the pain of war did not stop once I returned from the warfront, and I’m sure that this is true for all soldiers of war. The social and psychological effects of war are sometimes devastating. Men and families didn’t talk about these feelings too much though, and just tried to carry on like everything was normal.
Our fight for freedom
While Japan is close in proximity to Korea, we are very different. Even when we were under the Chinese dynasty we have developed our own culture, customs, and traditions. While Japan is clearly more advanced technologically and overall developed, we can incorporate those ways and still retain our own traditions and customs. A culture’s uniqueness and difference should be praised not erased. Our differences are what makes us special. During the annexation, Koreans were treated in the most inhumane way. Some people were taken as slaves, women sold to brothels, children forced to become Japanese, and some literally shot down when they spoke up. We demand to be free from their tyranny. Although we are a small country we have the strength and determination to make it. Here in Korea all men are drafted to serve in the war. But my friends, family and I willingly sacrifice our lives so our future generations can be free to live their lives. We would rather die trying than to just sit still and passively accept this injustice. Even if we fail as a young country we can at least say we tried to fight for ourselves and held on to our own pride and identity. Luckily, we have gained the ally of the United States. They recognize our desire of our people to be free and democratic. We want to be like them, a country that is for the people by the people. Their military strength and reputation is an immense help in our efforts of the war. While fighting on Korean soil I witnessed the merciless slaughter of our women and children. This is why I signed up to be stationed in Japan. Enough of the destruction of our land, it was time to take the fight to them. All we ask is to be respected. We will no longer tolerate Japan stealing our land and erasing Korea bit by bit. Other countries may underestimate us because our size but our patriotism and nationalism is what will give us the strength to survive.
In the voice of Catherine Boltz-
Seeing this photograph of the German soldiers invokes in me a feeling of deep unease. This war is being fought in a different part of the world, one that was once my home, but only for a short amount of time. My parents, my sisters, and I left Bavaria, Germany, and set sail to America shortly after my birth in 1890, and I haven’t been back to my birth country since. In fact, I struggle to find a connection to the land my ancestors had lived in for many generations. My family left Germany because of the poor conditions so many lower middle-class farmers were facing: our land, and thus our sustenance, was being taken away by the government. My parents thought our best shot at survival was to seek out “the land of opportunity,” and their hunch proved to be correct. My father quickly got a job on the railroad, and he soon saved enough money to purchase a house here on Staten Island. Although life New York is much different from how my family lived in Bavaria, we quickly integrated ourselves into the American culture, and although I identify myself as German-American, I have a much stronger connection to the country I have lived in for the past twenty-something years. Today, from an American perspective, I see the tyrannical intentions of the Kaiser and how many Germans are blindly supporting him, simply because his cause is the first thing since the 1870s that is truly unifying the country. It has become more clear in the past year or so that if our neutrality ends and the U.S. enters this horrific war, we will be fighting against Germany and the other Central Powers. I, like many others, am utterly disgusted by Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare that has killed many innocent people, including Americans. Still, it’s strange to me that one day soon this country may officially consider Germany the enemy. Surely I detest the war, the motives behind it, and all the death and destruction it brings, but how am I to hate the soldiers who love their country and believe they are fighting to protect their people? When I look at this photograph, I don’t see enemies- rather, I see men who are tired and presumably frightened to their very cores, men who love and are loved, and men whose lives may have ended before this photo even reached me. I can’t quite shake the thought that if my family never left Germany, I may have recognized any of the men in this photo as my neighbor, my long-time friend, or my lover.
Taking our culture to a Strange new land
In the Voice of Mohamedhussein Dewji: My wife and I moved to East Africa with our two small children when we were only in our late 20s. Though we had some family already settled in Songea, it was still a huge adjustment to leave our home, friends and family. Both my little boys were quite mischievous and were excited for the move. I felt they were able to pick up the language and culture faster than us and had an easier time making friends. My wife was really the one who suffered the most in the beginning because while I was constantly outside trying to find work and meeting new people, she was very isolated. Her cousins that were already here were in a neighboring town called Dar es Salaam and the people around us were not very welcoming. The local people did not understand our language or customs and the Indians that were already here had already developed new customs and new friends. It took us both a long time to adjust and make new friends. I was also worrying quite often because when my wife would go to the local market, some of the patrons would call her names and harass her.
My family was already poor in Indian because there was very few jobs and while there was a lot more opportunities in Songea, there was a lot of hatred because I was an outsider trying to take jobs from the local people. The job that I had originally been offered had fell apart when some of the locals protested my hiring. Many of the local shops did not want to hire an outsider who did not look or speak like them. It was only until we had lived in Songea for a few months that I realized by sons were having just as hard of a time adjusting as my wife and I. The lack of community and culturally similar people that were in abundance in Gujarat was hard to adapt to. After talking to some of my cousins, I realized that there was more Shia muslims across town that had created their own little community. In the end, I moved my family there to try and provide them some comfort in this unfamiliar place.
We quickly saw a change in the behavior of the local people. Because there was so many more muslims, the local people had already accepted our presence in the town and work environment. I was able to get a local job and provide a steady income for my family. My youngest son, Gulamali was able to attend the local pre-school and make many friends while my older son quickly got involved in sports and was able to meet different people of unique cultures. The one who benefited most would probably be my wife, however. She was able to go to the local market often with other women neighbors and I was not worried that she was going out alone or would be harrassed with. Because our culture is centered around community support, it was so important for our family to have that sense of belonging with others and know that we could be at home in a land that wasn’t ours.
Strangers in a New Land
During the early 20th century, many countries had growing populations of overseas Indians. As an overseas citizen myself, the discrimination we faced was also growing. I’ve come to see and realize that people don’t like it when things change from the norm and they especially feel unarmed by people who look and act differently to themselves. I’ve experienced this kind of discrimination within my own country. Muslims are a big minority in India, but yet somehow religious unrest continues to unravel into furthering divides between two groups of people and making many Muslims feel uneasy in their homeland. This is similar to the discrimination the Indians in South Africa felt, being such a big minority there. But, the unfortunate thing is that whenever Muslims or any minority group try to leave to go to a new place in hopes for freedom and acceptance, they often don’t receive it. The discrimination Indians feel in South Africa is one that I have experienced in all of the places my life has taken me. The Indians in South Africa moved there undoubtedly for better opportunities, but it came with a tradeoff. This is a hard truth that many immigrants have to face; that their pursuit of something better may come at the cost of their own discrimination.
It’s as though people acknowledge that everyone is an individual, but when it comes to a new group of unknown people, all of a sudden, stereotypes and generalizations come into play. But, I’m a firm believer that your hard work and accomplishments will speak for themselves and will show the kind of person you are. The resistance the Indians displayed in South Africa was admirable and demonstrated the resilience of my people. My goal that I hoped to accomplish by coming to the US for research was to conduct projects that would ultimately help me in figuring out how to better my city and my teaching. But I also wanted to show people who’d never really been exposed to my people all that we’re capable of and that the East isn’t lesser than the West in any way. The South African government restricted the Indians’ freedom by ordering them to carry ID cards at all times. In a similar, but less sever manner, other countries restrict immigrants based on the visas they are able to obtain. In the US, on certain visas, you can’t freely go to visit other countries or work. When I came to the US, I struggled to find the acceptance. But nevertheless, I found people who saw me for who I was and all that I was trying to accomplish. It is difficult to focus on your goals when you feel like an outsider. I understand why Indians in South Africa showed resistance. It doesn’t feel good to feel like you’re an outsider to the point where you’re made inferior. I hope in the future that we learn to see past race and nationality and can come together and unite on our differences and not let them divide us.
In the voice of Nicholas Vareton: When the Titanic sank in 1912, I was sixteen years old. I was still living with my family in Piano di Sorrento, Naples, Italy, but we had all been planning on immigrating to the United States around the time of the tragedy. When news broke that the “unsinkable” ship had in fact sank, the idea of travelling across the ocean to a new country became terrifying to me, as well as to my mother and all of my sisters. One of my sisters, Maria, was already living in New York at the time of the sinking, and although she wanted us to join her family there, she was wary to put us at such great a risk. I was working on ships in Naples at the time and my family turned to me, looking for a hopeful outlook and a positive message that this could not possibly happen to any other ships, that they would be safe if they indeed took the chance and traveled to America. But what could I tell them? The seemingly impossible had happened. The Titanic was meant to be a shining example of luxury and man-made power, and with one iceberg that dream-like ideal image sank into the ocean. If a ship like that could be brought down, what would stop any other ship from sharing the same deadly fate? I tried to be positive and tell them it could not happen again, but I think they could tell I was unsure. They could see that I was as scared as they were. Going back to work in the shipyard, the fear was only amplified. We were the men working aboard and helping to build ships. Could this happen to us? How would this effect our industry? Everyone was left shaken by this tragedy. Whether you knew someone on the doomed voyage or not, the idea of sea travel became almost implausible for a period of time. But life had to move on, and so did we. In June of 1913, I boarded the S.S. Canopic as a crew member and did not look back. My family eventually made their way across the ocean as well. My mother made her way from Naples to the United States on the S.S. Patria in August of 1914. Soon my whole family had faced their fears and made their way across the ocean to begin a new life in Brooklyn, New York. – Alyssa Paciullo
When I look at this photograph, I am inclined to believe that the mangled foot I am looking at came as a result of medical malpractice or disease of some kind. How else would it appear in such a deformed manner? However, I have learned recently that this very painful looking alteration of a woman's foot comes as a result of a cultural practice in China and I cannot help but wonder, why? Then I am reminded that they do these crazy things for us in an effort to be loved for their beauty. What other choice do they have? Outward appearance is the extent to which women have real control over their lives. Yet, they use that control to limit themselves further by binding their feet. My parents taught me that beauty can be found in art, like the music that they played during their lifetimes. They share a passion for art in more traditional forms like paintings and orchestral compositions, and a an appreciation for elaborate art and architecture. At home in Vienna, everything was beautiful and extravagant, perhaps because they thought that everything was perfect before the War. Now, that golden facade has been broken to pieces, and the only thing that is beautiful to me now is bare honesty, but all of a sudden women are wearing "makeup-" neither of us (myself or my father) are entirely sure why, it makes them look rather whorish.
My father doesn't quite understand this idea of beauty that is being upheld in the East, either. It lacks the honesty that Vienna lacked prior to the War, which leads me to believe that it will not be long until the fall of superficial beauty occurs. In fact, with the practice of foot-binding, that process seems to be approaching even sooner than I thought. The difference here is that the dishonesty is far more apparent in the deformed shape of feet. The effort to keep feet small is in vain and creates only a more aesthetically displeasing outcome that also renders feet unable to function in the way that they are supposed to.
Education Through the Eyes of an Egyptian Doctor
In the voice of Dr. Beniamin Behman: Being a young man that greatly appreciates education, this picture reminds me of the importance of seizing every opportunity possible to make the most of one's education. I know that education is a privilege and not something to be taken for granted; where I live (in Egypt) there is a lack of proper schooling. Egypt was under british rule when I was a young, and it was only for the extremely elite to be educated in Egypt. Most of my friends I grew up with when I was young did not have as much money as my family did, so they could not afford to go to school. I was blessed with the opportunity to grow up in a family with enough money who could afford to send me to school. Thus I went to school every day with joy and gratitude, knowing that I was privileged with a great opportunity. The lack of proper education forced me leave Egypt in order to pursue my dream of becoming a physician because the medical schools in Egypt were not of high standards. I knew that medical schools in London was much better than the ones in Egypt, so I went to London for medical school. I completed my training in Medicine and Surgery in 1918 in University College, London and returned to practice medicine in Egypt once I graduated.
I feel that it is essential to realize the blessing of school when gone to with a mindset of hardwork and determination. This picture reminds me that through my schooling, I was able to make something of myself - I was able to find my purpose. I worked very hard to accomplish my dream of becoming a doctor. Through my education I was able to build a hospital that already served, and will continue to serve, thousands upon thousands of people. Furthermore, If it were not for my education, I would not have been able to support a family of my own. I am thankful to say that God blessed me with the education to be able to start my hospital and live a life that is so full of purpose. All my dreams came true because I knew my goals and my education was the means by which I could accomplish my goals.
I was happy to see that the education system in Egypt began to get better soon after I graduated from medical school and came back to Egypt. In 1922, Egypt gained independence from britain, which was the start of an improved education system in my country. After direct British rule ended, Egypt adopted a new constitution that proclaimed the state's responsibility to ensure adequate primary schools for all Egyptians. Although this is a wonderful law, it was not followed right away. I still saw that many kids were not being educated in my country. However, in 20-30 years after this law was implemented, I finally saw enrollment to schools skyrocket and education became something a majority of people had access to in Egypt.
Written in the style of Jamaican patois:
When mi hear bout di 1923 eartquate ina Tokyo mi did really haffi look back pan wat mi know bout di 1907 eartquate ina Jamaica. Mi hear seh di eartquate was sinting else. It slam ina little Kingston and mash up di place. Di place was a wreck.
Mi memba seh di science people dem did she dat Jamaica was near di fault zones ina wah dem call tectonic plates and a dat did mek di eartquate happen. Tank God it neva cause havoc ina di area weh mi, papa, and di rest a di a di family live. We live pon di North area a di country ina di parish of Saint Ann but Kingston deh pon di south side a di country. Most a di building ina Kingston did bun dung or end up bruk dung. Di eartquate only last fi bout half a minute. Fi bout a mont, di aftershock dem just keep coming and wi get more dan eighty a dem. Lawd a massy. If dat wasn’t enough, Down Town Kingston flood out cause di wave dem was so high and dem jus come ova ina di road dem. Some parts a Kingston a low line. Dat mean seh dem part deh lower dan or about sea level. Fi help wid all the people dem who did get hurt, dem did haffi use Port Kingston boat as a makeshift hospital and Kingston Public hospital still did a tek in people although dem neva have wata. Dem did haffi get wata from di wata truck. Ebre body did just a run round like chicken widout head. Dem di haffi just a do anyting fi help out di situation.
Aldough mi did know seh downtown Kingston did have whole heap a idler, mi wish di people dem neva haffi bear all a di trouble weh di eartquate bring dem. Di uptown people dem neva get it as much cause dem was away from di coastline.
Toyko di have firestorm after fi dem eartquate. Di people dem did seh a di Korean dem a set di fire fi tek advantage. People talk all sort a sinting weh nuh even mek any sense. Dem just a go round an pint finga pon people.
Di Japan people dem suffer and wi ina Jamaica did really understan wah dem did a go trough. Dem mus did a seh “why me?” One haffi jus look back pon the scripture in Proverbs 3:5-6, weh seh according to di King James version – “trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not onto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Jus like we, Tokyo people dem will overcome cause God don’t give anyone more dan what dem can bear. Everything weh God do, is well done and Him will help dem fi overcome.
~Gertrude Reid (Alecia Barton)
Anything Can Happen
When the Titanic sank in the year 1912, I was 18 years of age. Only two years prior to this, I had come across the Atlantic Ocean on steam ship named the Madonna that sailed from Naples and arrived in New York. While looking at this picture, a powerful sense of fear comes over me. I use the word “fear” in more than just one sense here. First, this picture makes me a little bit afraid of sea-travel. Hearing of the story of the Titanic and how it sank due to hitting a mere iceberg serves as proof that no one is ever truly safe, especially when leaving your homeland to travel for the first time to a completely new place. If you really think about it, I could easily have been one of the casualties on board the Titanic; only two years separate my voyage across the deep and that of the Titanic and both ships took relatively the same paths. Or, the Madonna, the vessel that brought me to this country, could have been the ship to hit an iceberg and sink, killing a majority of the passengers on board. If this were to hold true, then the lives of my child and wife would be extremely different. My daughter would actually not even exist, and I would never have married a woman; my direct bloodline would end abruptly in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. I use the word “fear’ in a second sense with regard to respect. Thinking about the shipwreck that occurred, I have come to respect immigrants who give up their present lives in search of a better one for their families and travel by way of the ocean. This isn’t to say that I have only gained this respect now; the most transformative experience for me by far was coming to New York on my own to make a new life for myself with hundreds upon hundreds of other Italians. There are so many risks that each person takes when leaving their home and everything that is familiar to them, and each one is certainly aware of them. These risks, though, are usually associated with life in the new country; how hard will it be to find and maintain a job that pays well enough to support a family, how terrible will the living conditions be in an extremely tightly packed urban environment such as Manhattan, etc. On the other hand, learning of the shipwreck of the Titanic reminds every immigrant of the risk that is involved with the literal journey they take over the sea. Once a ship leaves the port, it is left in the hands of fate. It will always hold true that anything can happen to anyone in any set of circumstances. This is precisely why I have come to respect the entirety of the immigrant community in New York as well as myself so much more. At this point in time, if I were back in Italy and were given the chance to sail to New York knowing about the tragedy of the Titanic, I would still go forward with the trip; I wouldn’t change a thing, no matter how frightening the thought of sinking in the middle of the ocean may be. - Andrew Jacobson
Anything Can Happen
When the Titanic sunk in the year 1912, I was 18 years of age. Only two years prior to this, I had come across the Atlantic Ocean on steam ship named the Madonna that sailed from Naples and arrived in New York. While looking at this picture, a powerful sense of fear comes over me. I use the word “fear” in more than just one sense here. First, this picture makes me a little bit afraid of sea-travel. Hearing of the story of the Titanic and how it sank due to hitting a mere iceberg serves as proof that no one is ever truly safe, especially when leaving your homeland to travel for the first time to a completely new place. If you really think about it, I could easily have been one of the casualties on board the Titanic; only two years separate my voyage across the deep and that of the Titanic and both ships took relatively the same paths. Or, the Madonna, the vessel that brought me to this country, could have been the ship to hit an iceberg and sink, killing a majority of the passengers on board. If this were to hold true, then the lives of my child and wife would be extremely different. My daughter would actually not even exist, and I would never have married a woman; my direct bloodline would end abruptly in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. I use the word “fear’ in a second sense with regard to respect. Thinking about the shipwreck that occurred, I have come to respect immigrants who give up their present lives in search of a better one for their families and travel by way of the ocean. This isn’t to say that I have only gained this respect now; the most transformative experience for me by far was coming to New York on my own to make a new life for myself with hundreds upon hundreds of other Italians. There are so many risks that each person takes when leaving their home and everything that is familiar to them, and each one is certainly aware of them. These risks, though, are usually associated with life in the new country; how hard will it be to find and maintain a job that pays well enough to support a family, how terrible will the living conditions be in an extremely tightly packed urban environment such as Manhattan, etc. On the other hand, learning of the shipwreck of the Titanic reminds every immigrant of the risk that is involved with the literal journey they take over the sea. Once a ship leaves the port, it is left in the hands of fate. It will always hold true that anything can happen to anyone in any set of circumstances. This is precisely why I have come to respect the entirety of the immigrant community in New York as well as myself so much more. At this point in time, if I were back in Italy and were given the chance to sail to New York knowing about the tragedy of the Titanic, I would still go forward with the trip; I wouldn’t change a thing, no matter how frightening the thought of sinking in the middle of the ocean may be.
The 1918 Flu
I remember this deadly epidemic well. I was a young girl, just about ten years old. Everyone knew someone who died. The fear that surrounded us was paralyzing. No one knew who was going to get it next, and there seemed to be little one could do to stop it. As a child, I didn’t go out much. If I recall correctly, by this time, I had left school. Most of my time was spent indoors. My sister and I spent hours upon hours making hats to sell in the neighborhood. Additionally, my parents were very strict and traditional, and they did not like the idea of their daughters roaming the streets of Brooklyn.
Speaking of my sister, she was quite the troublemaker. It became tradition that when someone in your house died of the flu, the family would hang a mourning wreath on their door. As I said before, we had a lot of free time to ourselves. For fun, my sister Felice would order mourning wreaths and send them to random households! She would watch from the window and cackle as the unsuspecting families were filled with horror and confusion. Luckily, my immediate family was safe from the flu. But, I can’t say I would have been surprised if Felice came down with something as a punishment from God for her mischief!
Japan in Korea From the Eyes of Sue Mee Gee
I remember thinking that the Japanese seemed so far away that we would not have to worry about them. But slowly we would hear of what they were doing in Korea. The idea that they could enter a country and attempt to change their history and culture was a horrifying concept. To add on to that, Korea was an important part of the Chinese economy, so Japanese imperialism there greatly damaged not only the economy, but the political power of China as well. When we were defeated in the Opium War and the westerners brought imperialism to our lands, it was painful enough, but for Japan to surpass us as well made us realize that perhaps the dynasty was failing us again. We had hoped that the Japanese would be satisfied with the land they’d taken, and continue to work on developing it more. But I suppose the second Sino-Japanese War later in the thirties and forties was inevitable. The Chinese government was Our initial failures made it evident that China had not modernized enough, and our internal political stability only served to weaken our forces further. The dynasty failed to deal with this threat, and later, so did the nationalists. Although I can see the benefit of modernization brought about by the Japanese, the thought that one may lose control of one’s ancestral home to a foreign power is not worth the trade off. I would much rather continue sending money to improve the infrastructure of my village myself for a few more decades than surrender my home. Many of us working in America send money back to our villages as a whole in order to build roads, canals, and especially schools. If we are to protect ourselves, we must educate our children to have a stronger future. Until our nation could strengthen as a whole, nobody was safe from the Japanese, my own daughter in law would later be very lucky in her ability to flee from them. However, the fear and danger was constant and extreme, and the nature of my work would make it impossible for me to guarantee the safety of my family in person. I often wonder what would have happened had we been able to organize our troops better during the first Sino-Japanese War, or what would have happened had we been able to stop the Japanese from occupying Korea all together. If only we were able to organize our own government better, or had been able to modernize alongside the other countries. Many of my fellow overseas Chinese felt the same regarding the threat of Japan, and many of the family associations have agreed that in times like this we can only work harder to send supplies back to our villages.
The Chinese Civil War From Sue Mee Gee
There are times that we can only lose. For me, this civil war is likely a loss regardless of the outcome. The social and political unrest in China has once again divided our nation, and this war will not solve anything whether the winners are the communists, nationalists, or the Japanese that are encroaching on our land. Our people have persevered through countless wars and political shifts for thousands of years, and now we are dabbling in government systems that we have never dealt with before. While both sides argue for their cases, there is no doubt in my mind that once in power, things will inevitably get worse for our working class. There are always claims that the working class will have a better life, but I am skeptical to how this will be brought about. Look at how we were promised democracy by Sun Yat Sen, but got Yuan Shikai as a dictator, who was no better than the warlords and emperors before him. We have to depend on our own localized governments and militia, and even then we are targets for everyone. Chang Kei Shek seems like just another land-owner seeking more power to me, and his violent attacks on the people - regardless of their political affiliation - only affirms this to me. One cannot claim to be seeking a better future for the people while allowing his armies to ravage villages, failing to fend off invaders, and lacking the skills to coexist with other political groups. But when I look at the Communists, I can’t help but be apprehensive. They too, make many promises, but I can’t help but fear that they will take all that our family has worked to maintain and grow. We are merely successful peasants, but even so, I fear that what we do have will make our family a target. I have also worked abroad for most of my life, and the attitude towards men such as I tend to be unfavorable among the Communists, they may even see my wife as elitist. While I still want to protect my family, I am close to powerless in our village. I will admit that looking at this photo makes me think of my own children. I am concerned that they will have to grow up without me while surrounded by turmoil from all factions. I want to protect my wife, and keep our ancestral home. But I am merely one man. In America at least I can work to send money and supplies. I have already begun speaking to some of the others at the family association. We have developed a plan that will allow us to send ammunition from America to China without getting caught. For now, I can only look at these pictures, and wonder how my own family is fairing while I am powerless, thousands of miles away.
Hiram Bingham, after traveling extensively through the Peruvian countryside both by foot and by mule, arrived at a city lost to the ages, whose location was a secret kept by locals for hundreds of years. This city was Machu Picchu and it is a modern architectural wonder. He found it on July 24th, 1911 on a cold and rainy day, however, the tumultuous weather was not enough to stop this determined explorer. What is most significant about this site is that it was somehow left untouched by Spanish conquistadors and so none of the typical defacement is present at this site. Machu Picchu is located in between Cuzco and the Urubamba Valley, (only 80 miles from the Peruvian capital) and is tucked away into the mountainside. Outfitted with over 3,000 stone steps, Machu Picchu is widely thought to have been the vacation site of Incan emperors. Initially though, historians believe it to have been built specifically for an emperor known as Pachacuti, who lived from 1438-1472. It was built in classic Incan style, and contains three main structures: the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. However, if you visit Machu Picchu today you will be able to see that much of the outcroppings and outlying buildings have been repaired (this is done with the intention of providing some of the annual 300,000 tourists a better visual of this monumental structure.) The town can be thought of as being divided in two different ways: into an upper town and a lower town and an agricultural sector and an urban sector. Carefully thought out and planned, elaborate irrigation channels and terrace gardens dot the mountainside of this structure. The most astonishing thing about Machu Picchu’s design is the way that the Incans were able to adapt to the challenging terrain. For example, Machu Picchu is situated along two major fault lines, and as such, typical building materials such as “mortar” was unusable. So the Incans carefully mined and cut stones that fit perfectly into one another, in order to stabilize the structures. Another example of Incan innovation can be seen in the layout of the garden terraces, which were carefully coated with topsoil and rocks in order to maximum water retention (this was very effective prevention against mudslides and flooding.) Despite its location and relative seclusion, by all accounts the Machu Picchu that the Incans knew experienced a great deal of trade and was included in the Incan road system. Evidence of this type of long distance trading is seen through the discovery of artifacts that are not native to the region surrounding Machu Picchu. Though Bingham’s discovery ultimately led to the creation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bingham’s discovery was not always favorably viewed by the natives. At one point, Bingham was accused and vilified by the Peruvian press for stealing artifacts from Machu Picchu and smuggling them out of Peru. Despite being raked over the coals for this, there is no proof Bingham did anything illegal with the artifacts and in fact, any artifacts that he did take were removed in a legal and fair way.
“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” I consider this quote quite applicable to myself when I was a little girl. More than anything in the world, I wanted not only myself, but also my mother to have the right to vote. She was the single person in my life that I would trust with anything, and because of that I wanted her to have a say on what was happening in the world. The decisions that my parents made at the time, regardless if it was at home or at a polling site, would turn into my future; I just couldn’t fathom the idea of my mother not being part of that. Mothers have a way of knowing exactly what is right for their children, so I knew she had to be given the same opportunity as my father to vote. Furthermore, my mother, just like many of the other mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters at the time, had a strong, intelligent voice, but just wasn’t being heard. As just a little girl, I had this immense passion for women to receive the right to vote, and before I was even 10 years old, that right was granted. Fortunately enough, a select group of brave women ignited this cause approximately 30 years before I was even born.
I’ll never forget that women spent time in jail so that I could have the right to vote, and I don’t know how I could ever repay them. However, as a woman, I always make sure that I make it to the polls so that my voice is heard. I do this for my family and I, but also for the women who lived in silence for hundreds of years. It just doesn’t seem right to me when people don’t appreciate the sacrifices that were made so that they could live the lives that they do.
Let me also mention that as a little girl, this was a learning period for me. What an educational and inspirational experience it was for me to understand the power of women at such a young age. There are just as many women in this world as there are men, and together we can make a difference. I can guarantee that throughout my whole life, I never once was controlled or dominated by a man because I learned the importance of my independence at a young age. You could have asked me then, and you could ask me now, but I’ll always tell you that women are the future. I stand by that and work towards bettering the women of the future because I know my daughters and granddaughters will bring things to this world that no man ever could. I certainly am not biased towards women, as I love all my children equally and support them all the same, however I can say that because I’m proud of the world they live in. My only remark for other women who may see this is to keep pushing forward, and never settle for anything less than perfection. Fortunately for me, I am fierce because of everything I experienced while I was little.
The Titanic sunk in the year 1912, and while I was just 3 years old, I think it had significant impacts on both my lives and the lives of my children. Leaving Europe was not even a thought in my head until 1948, and it did not actually happen until 1951. Ship travel was supposedly much safer then, but of course, anything that could go wrong or awry to my family could. I was a widowed woman with four young children just trying to cross the ocean for a better life, just like many aboard the Titanic were, so why wouldn't something bad happen? But we couldn't stay in Europe any longer, bouncing around from Croatia, to Germany, to Austria, and back all over again. Just to make a living a put food on the table my only son Niko was following food wagons and picking up dropped produce like potatoes and carrots to either sell or eat. We had a humble house, and while America has always been the land of opportunities, in 1951 the time seemed right to come and try for a better life. I was frightened when getting aboard the ship but I knew that through the church we had a verifiable home and family to take us in in Ohio, so as long as we all made the voyage, life in America was already looking up. And I may have been scared but I knew I had to be strong for my daughters and son, so we all could go on to live the American dream and find work and live without the fear of not having a meal tomorrow. And cross the ocean we finally did, except as much as voyage gave me hope, it also broke my heart. Just like when aboard the Titanic all those years ago, sickness can spread quickly, especially when you are in lower quarters like us, and my poor Zdenka had made the voyage with her family, only to be left on Ellis Island while the rest of us moved on. She contracted TB at some point in the journey and when we arrived in America, they would not let her leave Ellis Island with us, out of fear she would bring sickness to the Americans already there. She waited there 4 long weeks before she could step foot on true American soil, which made the final tragedy of our voyage almost worth it. When we arrived, no one was there for us in New York. Not the church or the nice family from Ohio, we were stranded in New York with no home and no money. But by the time Zdenka was better, we had found a place to stay and my Niko already secured a job! This was the beginning of our American dream! This is what the people aboard the Titanic had and searched for, and now here we were in America despite of that. - Marija Baric
My grandfather worked in this plant.
ABUSE OF WOMEN
This is just one more example of how women have been abused in the service of "beauty."
Women's Rights Movement
This photograph so wonderfully captures the entirety of the Woman’s Rights Movement. For over 50 years now, people everywhere have been protesting, pushing and fighting for the beginning of equal rights amongst men and women. You can see the big crowd which doesn’t even start to show how many people were involved in this. These strong women have worked nonstop, did not sleep, and sometimes even refused to eat to send their message. And their message has been heard by so many, including myself. My mother and grandmother are two incredibly powerful women who I can see clearly are capable of doing anything men can do. In fact, my mother raised me alone and I have no idea who my father is, and my grandmother gave up everything for me. The least they deserve is respect and acknowledgment that they can do anything men can do, and for this the 19th amendment must be passed. In this photo, the two women standing are truly changing history. As they encourage voters to pass the amendment, they are changing years and years of traditions, laws and the American culture as a whole. Their bravery and commitment is astounding, for their fight has been ongoing since 1848 yet they still fight without knowing how much longer they will have to. If I have a daughter one day, I will be certain she knows she can do whatever she wants to in life and she is never lesser than any man. If I have a son one day, I will teach him that women mean everything, that we must never lose sight of their bravery and intelligence. I don’t know what the future holds. By the time I have children, who knows if any laws will have been passed bringing equality for women. If these laws and amendments are passed, which the women in the photo are so desperately fighting for, I don’t know if this will bring a real change. I have spoken with and known men who are so stubborn, so set in their beliefs that women cannot be put on the same level as men. Perhaps I am not as brave as the women here, but I cannot change these peoples’ minds. I cannot make them think differently, for their beliefs are already so permanently set. What I can do and what I will do, is to teach my children correctly, so my grandchildren and all future generations to come will realize and understand the potential and strength that lies within all women. I don’t know when this movement in particular will end, but I do know this will be a fight that is long from over – but a fight that must go on, so I may continue to honor the women in my life.
Living in Nigeria
From the voice of Mohini Rajani: I admire the courage in these women. But unfortunately, I can tell you that it will not be enough. When I moved to Nigeria in 1960, the country had just gained its independence from Britain. Despite achieving a goal that had been sought for over 50 years, this was the beginning of internal chaos in Nigeria. In my early days in Kano, I had met some wonderful women; they were housewives who were extremely polite and had a few young children. The husbands of these women were in conflict with some of the local leaders over some politics and they had not returned home in 2 days. I met these women in the airport, where I saw them handing money over to some officers. It did not seem as if they had done anything wrong. And they hadn't. These women had given money to the officers to go through a gate which they had the authority to go through. The only difference was that their husbands were not with them, which meant that they were bound to be treated unfairly. Nigeria is and has been a patriarchial society, at least in my time spent here (1960-2004). The women who led Aba's Women riot were particularly brave for standing up to not just British-appointed chiefs, but Nigerian men. After enduring unfair taxes and harsh regulations that clearly favored men, these women responded tremendously by assembling in large numbers (25,000) and chanting/dancing throughout the nights. Some even adhered to violence and burned down courts that were ruled by British authorities. Many of these women were responsible for producing food to Nigeria's cities, so their actions were wholly justified. The majority of the women were also subject to mistreatment from their husbands, so they were fighting for more than just political and economic equality (although equality would never really be achieved). Additionally, although the British left around 1960, there has been no lack of corruption in this country. My own husband, when visiting me in India a few years ago, did not need a passport at the airport. Instead, what he needed was a full wallet. When I arrived in Nigeria, after my encounter with those women, I witnessed many riots in my first few days. They ceased after a few months, but eventually returned. Even though women were involved in the riots, I don't think they will realistically achieve any major changes unless education quality improves in this country. For that reason, my grandchildren have immigrated to America.
After the emergence of the Reds and their establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, all of Europe felt the effects. After the death of Lenin in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power and suppressed all opposition to his ruthless rule. As this new political movement emerged, the Soviet Union established a communist form of government. Living conditions worsened and people suffered, however we were unable to escape the grasp of the ruthless ruler. While the system was idealized and seemed to be the passage to prosperity and growth, the truth was far darker and depressing. The Soviet Union was an unforgiving, secretive and radical country. Many events took place within the USSR, that are not well known to the outside world. For example, if you see your neighbor pick up a small bolt laying on the ground, and you tell the government officials that they picked something up, your neighbor as executed. This had everyone living in constant fear, as you didn’t know who you can trust and who will betray you. It is upsetting now to see that so many people still support this form of government when it was clearly so harmful and detrimental to humanity and our basic rights.
The Soviet Union was a wealth of information, and a wealth of even more secrets. There were many occurrences that happened within our crumbling empire. We’ve experienced the death of a cosmonaut, undisclosed to the public and especially the Western world. We’ve experienced horrid famines, those which were also undisclosed to the outside world. Stalin was able to arrange multiple very carefully planned tours for outside leaders, displaying the grand prosperity of our country. Meanwhile, the truth was deeply hidden. By the time the 1937 consensus was made confidential, the famine was deeply suppressed. And while the death toll was as large as the Holocaust, the Soviet Union effectively hid the famine. On top of these events there were massacres, hidden cities and secret projects. The rise of the Soviet Union through Lenin may have been one of the most detrimental events to occur to our countries.
It deeply saddens me to recount the events that occurred to our family and friends due to the strict rule and totalitarian government enforced in the USSR. I have friends and neighbors who have been killed and taken to jail for simple accusations and seemingly harmless acts. While I lived through a lot due to the Soviet Union, I am glad our country began to change for the better during my life time. I was able to see a slowly changing infrastructure, technological advancement and overall prosperity. I am glad the times of Lenin and communism came to an end, as I was able to live my finals years a free man.
my life in the USSR
The historical evolution of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union play an integral role in my up bringing and education. I was in 1922 in Ukraine and the world around me was in the midst of a major transformation. Regardless the fact that I wasn’t raised during Lenin’s rule, the impact of his ideas and actions stilled echoed through Stalin’s government. The communistic propaganda was heavily controlling the education system, thus during my school years I learned a lot about the foundation of the USSR; specifically it’s future glorious goals. Overthrowing the tsar was a major progress and Lenin’s attitude towards achieving communism through implementing temporary socialism seemed as a very logical change, since the final goal of becoming a great, powerful nation was still strongly present.
The secret of being exposed to partial truths and hand picked facts is that you become easily convinced that you have indeed been born into the greatest nations of them all. The inability to leave or receive any outside information had also contributed to the foundation of my and the majority of the population’s admiration towards the place we lived at. Please don’t misinterpret my words though; I love where I come from. I love it now and I loved it then. But life wasn’t easy. My nation was rapidly growing, advancing toward beautiful legendary goals, but as a small member of society abundance was a foreign concept to me, my family, and honestly to most simple men in my society. My dad initially ran a shoe-making store, and with Stalin’s uprising he felt the change in economic policies closely when he was forced to pay large governmental taxes in order to maintain his shop. He was the only one providing for all 7 of us, so you can imagine what life must have been like. Nevertheless, I believed in the communal goals of the government and understood that in order to achieve a better life we must struggle through the adversities of industrialization and collectivization in order to catch to the west. We had to be the best and we did everything we could to get there.
I developed such an admiration to my nation that when the time came, in the late 1930’s and the USSR was making obligatory recruitments for the red army to fight in WWII, I had no doubt that I want to contribute. I was too young to be recruited, so I’ve decided to fake my date of birth and make myself older and I have voluntarily requested to join the forces! Many people around me had lost their lives, but my dedication to my nation did not weaken, on the contrary I’ve climbed up the ladder and become a lieutenant in my division. I’ve won medals and even got severely injured in Germany. Up to my last living day I was carrying a bullet inside me.
It must be fascinating reading my positive outlook as an outsider, who has only heard about the deaths accumulated during Stalinism or the severely restricted life style. The admiration for our government and Stalin was so strong that when he passed away in 1953, our whole nation was weeping over his loss. We didn’t know what was to come and that was a scary time. Even later, when the USSR had fallen apart because we weren’t able to achieve our ultimate goals and the west was by far more progressed than us, we all still had positive memories and outlooks on our childhood and lives there. But, you weren’t there so I guess you can’t fully understand.
World War I
In the voice of Charlotte Schulter: I was only a young girl in Charlottenberg at the time this photo was taken, but even so, I was impacted by World War I. My father somehow escaped the horror of it, but I was confronted with it with photos such as this one that showed that even when the soldiers were relaxing, they were surrounded by dirt and disease all around them. A countless number of my friends had fathers, brothers, and cousins in the War. We would play quietly and listen to our mothers whisper of the atrocities of it. They were trying to protect us from all that was happening at this time, but still we caught glimpses of newspaper pages and skimmed articles of the battles that were taking place. Besides, how could they hide the War from us? Even if we were unable to read or not able to hear the things they discussed in the kitchen, the War was everywhere we looked. There had been so much hope when the War began. Germans had so much pride in their country then; a pride that time and time again turned out to be dangerous. We were finally going to show Britain, Russia, and France who was really in charge on the European continent. We didn’t know back then of the horrors to come for our soldiers and for those on the other side: machine guns, poisonous gas, and costly battles fought from miles of trenches just for a little bit more land for each side. As the War went on, the enthusiasm dwindled as France, Britain, and soon even the United States beat down upon us. More and more of my childhood friends were receiving word that their loved ones were not coming back, as the number of dead rose from thousands to millions. We were lucky in a way though: the War never directly reached us. Some in the East of Prussia were directly affected, which occurred when Russia attacked them at the First Battle of Tannenburg in 1915, but that was the only battle close to us. Still, I remember thinking that it would never end, and that I would constantly have to hear of new horrors.
After the War ended in 1918 and the dust settled across Europe, I left Germany 8 years later at age 20. I did this because the aftermath was too much for me to take. Even though I was financially stable as a clerk and I loved Germany, I needed to leave for the United States and start a new life. This was seen by some of my peers as a traitorous move; after all, the United States had fought us in the War. Nevertheless, it was new and exciting, and a place for me to build a new life for myself, somewhere far away from the memories I had of this horrid time of violence and death I grew up in. However, when I was far older, I did go back to my suburb outside of Berlin, and tried to replace my childhood memories of death and sadness with happier experiences.
This picture is very foreign to me. Although I lived in the United States for most of my life, I never got to experience its education system. Coming from a small farm in Kappel I never had the opportunity to go out and pursue an education. My job was to always tend to the farm work with my brothers and sisters. If anyone were to get the opportunity for an education it would have been my eldest brother. That's just how the time was when I was in Germany. He ended up getting the farm as a birthright, so I feel like if anyone were to get educated out of my family it would have been him. Never getting any formal education made me want feel like it was essential for my own children. One of my sons, Robert, actually is currently a professor at Manhattan College. He has also written several books. He has really seized the opportunity the the United States gave to people. This is truly what I wanted for my children. He really ended up on the opposite side of the education spectrum as me. He became someone who teaches the future generations, and that is more than I could have asked him to do with his education. I am very proud. I notice that the picture that these students are looking at has to do with muscles, and parts of the human body. I have always been interested in this type of thing, but I knew that without the formal education I would never have been able to support my family. If there was one thing that I learned from living on a farm for some of my life, it was how important it is to get bread on the table. There is honor in doing any kind of work and helping your family be comfortable. That is why when I got to the States I took one of the only jobs that I could. I worked for Swift and Co, I did labor and worked as a butcher. This allowed my family to live more comfortable lives. Yes, I did have some very long days, and it did take a toll on my body, but it was what I had to do. As a I mentioned before, nothing is more important to me than putting bread on the table for my family. I worked as hard as a did in order to provide my kids with an opportunity to succeed. I would have put the same 110% effort into any job that I did, I was really that kind of person. This classroom reminds me of the very schools that I sent my kids too in Queens. I can only hope that they were as attentive as the kids in this picture, but I'm sure they were. Coming from a farm I felt like hands on work was the best way to learn, and I feel like schools would be better if it was more this way.
In the voice of Narasamba Munukutla:
Growing up in the 1920s in India was a time of witnessing great changes sweeping across our nation. The hero behind these revolutionary changes was truly a mahatma (“great soul”) named Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. I still remember the glorious day when he came to visit my small village in Andhra Pradesh. I felt so lucky to see this wonderful man in person, an aged-fatherly figure who brought great honor to Bharat (India) and its people. I know I am not alone in saying that Gandhi Ji (“sir”, used as a term of respect) has united us all, and made us feel proud to be the free people of India, the nation that overcame the British Raj while holding steadfast to the spiritual virtues of nonviolence and peace. I am sure that my daughter and step-sons learn about Gandhi Ji at their school, but I still make extra sure to describe to them the many stories of Gandhi Ji’s well deserved successes through patience and determination, and the glory of achievement without ever straying from morality. I personally, as well as other women in my village, deeply admire Gandhi as a hero that we want our children to emulate. The typical male heroes in the cinemas we all watch always elevate men who are violent, and express their anger or disagreement through barbaric fighting; in complete contrast, Gandhi Ji is a kind and pure soul, one who practices sacrifice and complete renunciation of personal pleasures to achieve just actions for the good of the nation. During the time of India’s nationalist revolution, I remember each afternoon at tea time the men of the village would come together and fervently discuss the latest politics in the paper. New happenings such as Gandhi Ji’s hunger strikes and latest non-violent protests would be on the front page of our newspapers every week. Ladies were not typically included as part of these political discussions, as it was not considered proper for us to entangle ourselves with these heated matters; however, out of my natural curiosity for knowledge and my immense admiration of Gandhi Ji, I would listen intently and pick up some information of the most recent events, including his contributions to helping the oppressed Indians living in all parts of our country. Living in a village, it is quite rare to see people travelling to far places. I was intrigued when I found out that Ghandhi Ji travelled as far away as South Africa to help fellow Bharatiyas (Indians) living there to overcome discrimination by the Transvaal Government; when Indians were unjustly asked to present registration cards to identify themselves, Gandhi organized a peaceful demonstration to burn these cards, to bring about change. To hear of Ghandhi Ji always filled my heart with joy, and I would pray for his continued health and strength each day in my morning prayers. I saw him as a man who adhered to dharma (righteousness) and ahimsa (nonviolence), the virtues prescribed in our Holy books, namely the Gita and the Vedas, and he had strong faith that this would get him through the toughest situations. Gandhi Ji set an example to the world that great positive change can take place without the destructive and divisive forces combat. To me, this is the ideal of true bravery.
Lenin didn't live long enough to ensure the success of the revolution.
The sight of these German soldiers fighting down in the trenches makes my heart go out to our own troops fighting to protect our freedom. I feel a solemn connection to the American soldiers and our allies fighting to protect democracy in Europe from the tyranny of the German Kaiser. However, I do not harbor any ill will toward the enemy troops for it is their despotic leader and I unjust government I dislike. While I vehemently support America’s role as a global leader and defender of freedom in the world, I absolutely abhor what is going on in Europe now. It is the War itself that I cannot stand, not its geopolitical undertones. Even these soldiers who are our enemies are still people and my heart goes out to their wives and children as much as for our troops. It’s strange seeing the perspective of the enemy and sympathizing with the troops of the Kaiser we’ve sworn to defeat. However, these men are simply serving their country and protecting their home the same as ours despite the fact that they and their allies are the aggressors in this conflict. The senseless violence being experienced by the troops down in the trenches, suffering shell after shell of bombardment not knowing if they’ll survive transcends even national divides. On a universal human level war devastates our very souls regardless of which side you’re on. What’s worse is if what we’re hearing about use of deadly poisons like this so called mustard gas is true, the suffering of those troops is something I would not even wish upon our worst enemies. However, that does not excuse the inhumane horrors that the Germans are guilty of by unleashing these weapons. While I am now too old to serve being in my fifties, I would gladly serve my country if I could and I show my support for our troops everyday. All I can do on the home front is pray for all the young men overseas to safely return home to be with their families who must be desperately missing them. It is my hope that this bloody conflict will end soon and that democracy will prevail to ensure freedom and justice in the world for generations to come. When the dust finally settles, this will be the bloodiest conflict humanity has ever and hopefully will ever experience. With so many millions of people dying it seems like this will be the war to end all wars. I can only hope the horrors and devastation of this war will show the nation's of the world how futile warfare truly is. After all it was intense militarism and hatred that created this conflict in the first place. All this war has shown is how violence begets more violence. It is for that reason that I am so thankful to be living in such a peaceful country and am truly blessed by God to have all the freedoms and liberties of America for myself and my family.
(n the words of Yaesuk Han
The Japanese invaded Korea and took over our country, ruling with an iron fist. Their methods were questionable and often cruel. What plagues the mind of Koreans the most is what the Japanese did to our people, our land, and our history. Ever since I was a little boy, Japanese military police marched through towns followed by their Korean aides. In those days, Koreans weren’t called policemen, but rather assistants. The colonial government wanted to secure the country to its own advantage so it bribed and recruited Korean men who could speak Japanese. I remember seeing the father of one of my schoolmates wearing the sleek black uniform that represented that he was with the Japanese military police force. Our troubles came, not just from the Japanese, but from our own men as well.
After the Japanese occupation, many Koreans used guerilla tactics to fight the Japanese. They called themselves the Independence Army. They forced the wealthy families to give them money to support their fighting. The father of one particular family refused to pay and the soldiers killed him on the spot. The Japanese were not only robbing us of our culture and our freedom; they were also taking away the unity between Korean brothers. People felt that something had to be done to combat Japanese policies.
By 1919, Japan established its authority over Korea through direct military rule and violence. I was seventeen years old at this time. Energy for a Korean independence movement grew as more citizens became more courageous and willing to stand up and fight against the Japanese. Their resentment increased after our emperor, Emperor Gojon, was allegedly poisoned and died. On March 1st, there was a non-violent protest in Seoul. Since I lived many a province away, I did not attend, nor did I wish to. I saw people get arrested, often without any idea of what was charged against them, The most innocent act could bring unexpected repercussions. There were also many people who rebelled openly. They were often executed or tortured. Personally, I did not love the Japanese and everything that happened during the time they occupied my country. For the sake of my family, I wanted to maintain amiable relations with the Japanese and not do anything that would put them in danger.
Japanese imperialism was not always as horrible as people say. Speaking from personal experience, as long as you minded your own business and followed their rules, you could survive. And it wasn’t a life completely wrought with fear and trepidation. The Japanese also brought many advances to our country. Whenever we had a rainy season, our village flooded. The Japanese came and built reservoirs, dams, and bridges. The bridges they built in my village lasted through all the rains and flooding, which was very helpful to me on my farm. One of the taxes had to be paid in rocks. Each family collected a certain amount of small rocks to be collected, and these were used to build roads. Although I am not justifying what had happened during the Japanese imperialism, I do believe that without it, Korea would not be as advanced as it is today.
Some leaders had written a Proclamation of Independence that was to be read at the March First Movement. Sadly, thousands of people were either killed or wounded for participating in the demonstrations that would arise throughout the country in the following year. Although the movement failed at its goal to put pressure on Japan to end its colonial rule in Korea, sign and read the proclamation, it created a stronger sense of national unity among Koreans. In that sense, I believe that it was a great victory for Korea.
While I lived in Germany and not Russia, I can relate to this photo because the ideas of political and social revolution were obviously ideas present in Germany a few years after 1917. Political revolutions began in Russia as a result of the oppression and unfair treatment of the lower classes. They were not happy with how the government was being run and it lead to revolutionary thinking. Even after the overthrow of the Tsar, however, many Russians were still not happy with the situation in the country. This unrest was mostly in the lower classes who believed that their needs and issues were not being addressed even with the provisional government. This lead to a country being divided in a civil war and two opposing groups who faced a great deal of conflict before resolution was eventually made.
This sounds very familiar to my own country, Germany only a few years later. Germany followed almost the same pattern as Russia: the government was overthrown by a new group (in Germany’s case this was the Nazi Party), the country was divided in conflict, and eventually a resolution was made in which a more stable government won out. Even though it would be a few years before this began, the early stirrings of social unrest were there even when I was a child in the early 1910s. These early problems with the government only increased when we entered into the Great War. Inflation and rationing made life very hard for people in the lower classes, such as myself. As the war went on we had less and less faith in our government and in our country as well. This even contributed to my wanting to move to the United States a few years later.
When I came back to Germany for a year in the early 1930s I came back to a country still struggling from losing the First World War. It was also the time when the Nazis were coming into power. While I, personally, did not approve of the Nazi Party, I can understand why many people did. The situation in the country seemed to have only gotten worse during my time in the US and to many Germans Hitler seemed like he could improve the situation for the country. It makes sense to me that something similar happened in Russia as a result of their revolutions.
And just as Russia was divided into two groups, so was Germany when the Berlin Wall was constructed. By this time I had moved back to the states and so had my family, but it was still terrible seeing my home country split into opposing groups that way. Eventually the conflict and separation ended in both Russia and Germany, but with its costs for each country. Germany seems to have ended in a better situation once the country reunited. And eventually the same would be true for Russia as well. To me it makes sense that both of these revolutions were a result of the struggling lower classes’ attempts to improve their own situations and the situation of the country as a whole.
“Blood, sweat, and tears became their daily ration and it was not surprising at all that the will to carry on died and gave place to despair and revolutionary thinking.”
-Heinrich Jakob Muellers
Prohibition and its influence on cultures
Prohibition. As a woman whose life has been greatly impacted by alcohol, I am nothing but torn by this issue. My Italian heritage has integrated it into so many aspects of my life. I use wine to cook. I soak my desserts in rum. My sweet tooth has made me cherish these alcohol soaked pastries and cakes. I’ve already passed the taste onto my grandchildren, knowing fully that they will pass it on to theirs. A piece of our culture will be passed on because of this drink. Even our religion tells us that wine is to be the symbol of God’s body. We drink a small amount during communion to recognize Him and His sacrifice. Wine is sacred to me because of this.
But alcohol is also the reason my skin has had to grow tough. It is the reason I have scars all over my body. It is the reason fear would strike my heart every time I thought I heard the door opening late at night. It is the reason I protect my children’s lives with every fiber of my being. Alcohol is the reason my husband turned into a nightmare. It grabbed a hold of his heart and twisted and morphed it to where I would not recognize the man who beat me to be the same man who I said my vows to on my wedding day. Alcohol is what enhanced my husband’s anger and restrictions. It is what warped his mind to think tying me up in that field was what was best to punish me for a crime I was not aware I had committed. It is what let him think that pulling that trigger was what I needed in order to be shown that I must be a better wife and mother, something I dedicated my life to.
Alcohol has made my life hell, but it is also what connects me to my heritage, my culture. Having it banned placed a slight relief on my heart. But, to say the truth, it came too late. By the time alcohol was banned, I had already separated from the man it had corrupted and I had learned to continue to trust it through my culture. By the time it was banned, my relief was overcome with annoyance. My culture was to now be limited. Where I had found my safety. Where my family lies. Where I had taken solace was now limited. While I myself did not drink a large amount of alcohol, it was a venue by which I could connect to others. Through my food, I am able to communicate comfort and love. When it became limited, I was disheartened. Something I had wanted to continue giving to my children and grandchildren, was labeled as wrong and against society. And while I do agree with it in certain respects, I do not think the entirety of alcohol should be banned. It is something that is a part of cultures. It is a part of people’s identities, and to have it banned altogether is not something I agree with.
Soldiers Herding Jewish Men
Looking at this photo, I see myself. I see myself as one of those Jewish men in the line, forced to submit to the will of another man, a man who is just following orders from another man. Why? Why must human beings be subject to injustices from other human beings? What did these men in the line do to deserve this? What did my family do – my parents, my brothers and sisters…Flora’s parents, her family – why did they have to be ripped from their homes and sent off to be killed? Because they were Jewish? What is a Jew? Why does it matter that we are Jewish? The star of David we were forced to wear when they sent us to live in Zenica… why must we be branded as different, as inferior, so unworthy as to be abused and mistreated and have our lives taken from us? I am certain that neither my family nor anyone I know did anything to Hitler, did anything to these Germans who have been determining our fates for us.
I am a simple person. I don’t ask for much. If it were up to me, I would be content with going to my pharmacy store every day, minding my business and keeping myself far from the world of politics. It only leads to trouble and injustices. To think that I am alive right now after all that has happened –it still baffles me how I was able to make it out of this and return to Sarajevo after it was all over. All of the times the Ustase [Croatian fascists who worked under the Germans] imprisoned me and questioned me, beat me over the head and on my back and broke three of my ribs...to the times they imprisoned my family when they became suspicious again...I was sure they would have killed me one of those times. If my lab assistant's German boyfriend who took me from my house in the middle of the night to kill me wouldn't have gotten drunk in the bar with his friend on the way to the river where he was going to dump my body, I wouldn't have been here right now writing this. If the coal miners didn't go on strike and insist they needed a pharmacist for them to continue working, my family would have been sent off to the concentration camps long ago. If my little daughter hadn’t have repeated her aunt and said she didn't know where I was when the Ustase came to the door, even though she knew exactly where I was, we would have all been shot. If the lady who hid us in the mill next to her house during the last few days of the war wouldn't have been so generous or would have given away our location, we wouldn't have been able to come out of hiding and return to Sarajevo a few days later.
The Holocaust was one of the most horrible things that happened to the Jewish people throughout the entirety of their existence. It definitely changed my life. I know that Flora never recovered from not seeing her parents and sister ever again. It changed our whole family dynamic, our whole community. Yet if it never have happened, I don't think I'd ever have been as strong and resilient as I am today.
Giving one second thoughts
The sinking of the titanic was truly a tragedy and its’ effects were felt worldwide. Nothing like this has ever happened before and it is certainly frightening to think that this may be a normal occurrence in the future as technology continues to progress. This tragedy has had a ripple effect that I can barely comprehend. The circulation of news in Italy is primarily through newspapers and radio. Being part of a rural agricultural community, news doesn’t travel very fast, yet everyone knew about the Titanic. I remember going down to the market with my mother and seeing it on the front page of every newspaper. That was the first event that I remember having such a global impact.
When my father died and my family decided to leave for the United States, I remember my mother being concerned about traveling by ship. To be honest, it concerned me too. The Titanic was not the only shipwreck of that time. With such a massive influx of immigrants going to Ellis Island, shipwrecks were not terribly uncommon. However, the Titanic really put the issue into perspective and showed that this is a reality on a grand scale as well, taking hundreds of lives. It is terrifying knowing that the only way out and the only way for our family to survive was to cross the ocean on the S.S. Patria. Incidentally, just a few years ago I was listening to the news and learned that the very boat we were on, the S.S. Patria, was bombed. It sank in the waters near Israel. Hearing this news was surreal and brought up old fears, because it could have been me.
I remember the Titanic raising other concerns for my family in regard to the new world we were entering. Being from Catania, we had minimal technology. Most of the citizens were poor and lived predominantly off the land that they cared for. Going to New York was going to be a big leap for us. I remember hearing about skyscrapers and not believing it. Once I actually saw it with my own eyes – the skyscrapers, the factories, and the cars – it was more than I had ever imagined. This technology was the future of New York and we were right in the middle of it. Other than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Titanic sinking was one of the worst cases in which technology had failed us. With all of this technology on the horizon for New York, I was terrified to think what else could go wrong. Was it all worth it? It made me miss my simple life in Catania, and it made me very weary of what was to come. After all, we knew what it was like to live without the luxuries that technology provided, and we could certainly do without them.
One aspect I am grateful for is the safety measures that have come out of this situation. Though technology can have its downsides, I suppose that it has made a positive impact as well. New safety regulations have been put into place, including life vests and lifeboats for all passengers. I remember that when I came from Italy, we did not have these precautions, which made the trip even more troubling in light of all of the recent accidents. Now even for older ships, we have safety measures in the event of an emergency. In this regard, I can see the benefits to technology. I am still undecided in which way of life is best for me, because both had its ups and downs.
One thing that I know for sure is that everything happens for a reason. The tragedy of the Titanic sinking was something no one ever expected, and it certainly shook up those who were traveling in that time. However, if this event didn’t occur,
Posted by LISA PASTORE
A view of Mexico from Columbia
The signing of the constitution of 1917 is often regarded as one of the pivotal moments in Mexican history as it marked he first attempt the nation gave at democracy. Personally I applaud their efforts, as it means they are following the path our nation started on long ago. Colombia has been free from outside control for about 100 years now but our democracy is fairly new. We’ve only been a republic for about 15 or so years but we feel that this system of government is the way of progress and Mexico is wise to adopt a similar model.
While I understand the concern that this democracy sprang from armed conflict, I feel it is important to remember that most democracies in the modern era sprang from such conflict. Even here in Colombia, our republic was born after a two yearlong civil war in 1863. Also remember that the “greatest” democracy in the word (The US) came about only after a harsh revolution. Thus I think that the way they came to this new paradigm of government is not only expected but also justified. And even if this constitution proves to be problematic with fighting still continuing, at least they are trying to make positive changes in their society.
Some words of advice I’d have for Mexico are simple. Be wary of not only outside influence but internal dissent. If they are not careful they will have their nation torn apart the way ours was recently. We had Panama recently seek their independence, which in all honestly was unnecessary. We were treating them just fine. Mexico should be careful of the same happening to them. They need to stay on top of their own people. Also they need to be wary of their neighbor to the north. The US has a bad habit of trying to influence the rest of the world for their own personal gain. So Mexico be warned.
So yeah, this photo makes me think about all these things. I’m happy for Mexico for their step in progress. I know that this is the right direction for them and for the rest of Latin America. I hope other countries can soon follow in their footsteps. A democratic Latin America is better for all of us.
posted by KEVIN PADILLA
We were independent for a year...and then the statues came up.
That pose...I saw that pose in every possible form (statues, posters, paintings, flyers, photographs, etc.) for the rest of my life after the Republics were established. It’s interesting how a man can go from nothing to such notoriety. In some ways, I appreciate this man, yet in others, I don’t.
Russia is known for the Revolution of 1905 and the Revolution of 1917. The Russian people were furious! The lower classes were trapped in the feudal systems as serfs answering to lords while the middle classes could not find jobs because industrialisation was so slow and difficult. These feelings resonated with the Belarusian people in many ways because our industry was very, very underdeveloped yet 65% of the population lived in urban areas.
In 1905, while the Russians protested in Moscow, a group of workers in Minsk (capital of Belarus) demanded the local government release political prisoners from jail. The local government responded by opening fire on the crowd, killing 80 people and injuring over 300. Protests broke out like wild fire across the entire country. In our city Gomel, workers seized a railway station, effectively controlling traffic and therefore the entire city between December 10 and December 19, 1905. The governments of both the Russian Empire and Belarus were not particularly interested in what the people had to say but the people knew after this moment that they were not alone in their struggles and that they could fight together. In 1912, 3000 workers in Belarus attended protests and in 1913 the number grew to over 8000 workers. By 1914, the protests were massive and across more than just Minsk and Gomel. They were powerful in Vitebsk, Orsha, and other cities! Not only did the protests energise the public that change can come, but the feeling was that Belarusian independence was a possibility for the near future.
The protests and demonstrations continued after World War I and in March of 1918, Belarus declared its independence. It was short-lived, however, because while Belarusian workers were asserting themselves and speaking out against the political and economic status of the country, the Russians were doing the same. With the help of Lenin, the Czar of Russia was overthrown, causing the government to switch from monarchy to communist. This established the Soviet Republic. The Russian Soviet Republic moved quickly in its expansion and swallowed the newly independent Belarus in 1919. Poland wasn’t very happy about this and took the west half of Belarus in 1921. In 1922, Belarus was officially apart of the Soviet Union as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Soon enough, Lenin was everywhere. In front of every government building stood a statue of the man who freed the Russians of monarchy and stole freedom from the Belarusians. In every newspaper and piece of propaganda was his face. This image was burned into everyone’s retina. We were independent for a year...and then the statues came up.
posted by DIANA CHAYKINA
East Indian Resistance to Transvaal Government in South Africa
In the voice of: Bhadase Sagan Maraj
The way that Indians are treated around the world continues to shock me. For so many years, the Indians have been a proud and successful people, developing one of the most unique cultures in the world. Yet, we continue to be subjugated and belittled, this time by the Transvaal Government of South Africa. It seems that we are discriminated against no matter which part of the world we are in. Here in Trinidad, brought over as Indentured Laborers, we have no rights, no representation. We were brought here under false pretenses, promised a fair shot of success. On the exterior, people of Indian descent may look meek and easily targeted, but we have an unbreakable spirit. That young man leading the resistance against the government, Mahatma Gandhi, epitomizes the spirit of the Indian. No longer are we going to be discriminated against, we deserve fair treatment just as anyone else.
His method is unusual to say the least, I would initially think that such injustice would incite anger and violence, leading to a “revolution” mindset. However, it takes a strong, well-articulated and charismatic young man to be able to collect the masses together in such a way that they will be able to demonstrate against the discrimination in such a peaceful way. No doubt he was met with anger and animosity, and surely there are those in the crowd that would have preferred to pick up arms against the British Empire. But Gandhi would have known the strength of the Empire, this would be the loss of lives in futility.
The average person may not see the importance of burning the very registration card that the government is making mandatory, yet the message is so strong and powerful. Simply, the Indians are saying “No”, they will not respect the wishes. It takes away the power with a simple flick of a match. The actions of all these Indians in South Africa is to resist discrimination, without yielding to the sordid actions of the British Empire. If we Indians pick up guns and knives to fight and rebel, we will be seen as savages, as lesser creatures than the whites. It will undo all the progress that has been achieved and give them a reason to take arms with their more sophisticated weaponry.
Everyone is entitled to a certain type of life, we should not be discriminated against because of the color of our skin, the language we speak, or our religious beliefs. That young activist leading the group, he knows that we must all stand united, and forge ahead in creating a level playing field. Violence may not be the wisest way to go about it, especially when the British Empire is at the strength that it is. They rule us here in Trinidad as well as the majority of the other islands in the Caribbean. Ironically, we are now referred to as the British West Indies. I see B.W.I. written on all the mails and papers that are scattered around the country and on the shipping labels on the sugar estates and rice paddies.
It is only a matter of time till the same that is going on in South Africa and in other parts of the British Empire spread to us here in the British West Indies. We all deserve a fair chance, and the discrimination that we face is absolutely horrid. The Empire will not hold the power that it does for much longer if people are discriminated against in such ways.
The Suffrage Movement of 1914
The most moving of the pictures on the Shared Roots site from the decade is the photo of the women’s suffrage movement dated May of 1914. Contrary to the feelings of a majority of the nation, I admired the women for standing up for their rights and parading down the streets of the capitol. It takes a lot of will power to picket a wartime president, and to use his own words against him was quite witty. I would even go as far to say that if men had to fight for the same right, their tactics would not have been executed so skillfully.
I would have been seven at the time of this particular photo, and to any child this may have been inconsequential, but later in life I think I valued this movement very much. The boldness shown by the suffragettes reminds me a lot of my wife Mildred--who was always known to speak her mind, no matter what the subject. Her sassiness is seen in several of the members of the family, including our daughter Martha and great granddaughter Vicki. I was drawn to Mildred for her self-assurance, and I think she would have supported the movement to get women the right to vote with all her heart. Even though I would have been very young at the exact time of the suffrage movement, my adult self would have certainly supported the right for women to vote solely because of the support I show my wife.
The bravery those women showed in prison alone speaks volumes to how badly they wanted their representation, and facing that degree of brutality has won them my admiration. No one could imagine being force fed three times a day, every day, for the entire prison sentence. In addition to the terrible treatment in jail, the protesting women were met with violence from spectators who opposed them. Specifically referencing the photo, you can see how many people stood against these suffragettes. To speak out against so many rivals is a daunting challenge, but despite the obstacles the women were compelled to keep moving forward.
One of the more shocking things about the suffrage movement is the fact that these women spoke out against the president during our First World War. This was the first time in history that a president was publicly criticized during a time when the entire nation was dependent on him. This would not be the last time, but for women to be the first to be courageous enough to do this is staggering.
I am glad that women had received the right to vote as early in my life as it had, but the feats that these women had to do to gain the right--and not be renowned for it no less--is very disheartening. Had Mildred or even Martha been a part of this movement they would have had my utmost support, and for other men not to support their wives and daughters is just shameful.
posted by Kaitlyn Gioia
Iconic photo: Photo of propaganda parade in order to motivate public opinion in favor of going to war (World War I)
Reflection (through voice of ancestor): I am not one to argue or criticize others, but I find these parades excessive. It was the right decision for our country to stay neutral in the war; there are many issues here at home that need to be amended, such as the issue of women's suffrage and prohibition, before we can turn our focus to external affairs. I may be one of the few people who feels this way; I myself focus on domestic affairs, rather than things outside of my inner circle. I work to support my family, so we can have a good life. Family is everything; the home is a sacred place. Abandoning home, abandoning America, in favor of fighting abroad is not in our best interest. It is like saying to your wife and children: I will not be home tonight after work to fix the gutter, because I will be out fixing everyone else's gutters. While my family has a broken gutter, I should be out fixing others? While this may appear selfish, it is not, in principle. Take care of your family's needs first. Fix the gutter. Do not install a brand new gutter system that outshines the rest of the neighborhood's broken gutters - just fix the gutter. Then, with the issue resolved at home, I can move forward and help others in fixing their gutters. This principle applies to the nation as well. Fix what is wrong here: give women the right to vote so the entire country can decide to go to war. Women are sensible, and can make decisions just as men do. I would know, my wife is a very smart woman. Once this issue (among others) is remedied, then can we as a united country move forward and make a decision about going to war. Once we fixed out own gutter, can we go out and fix other people's gutters.
Again, I am a quiet man. I rarely state my opinions and am not one to criticize others. People have their right to their own opinion. However, trying to sway public opinion by these parades seems to me as too much. Of course, I know many people disagree with me - they want to go to war, what with the offenses that have been committed. However, if I am offended by someone at work, my immediate reaction is not to go to war with them. If a man punches me at work, I will not punch back. There was a reason for his punching me, and punching him back will not resolve the issue between us. Resolution of an issue comes with discussion and explanations of the situation, rather than acting on emotions.
by Rachel Colvin
The Flu Epidemic of 1918
I think the question everyone asks about the flu epidemic of 1918 is why isn’t better known? Why isn’t it part of our national narrative? The next question for me is since the epidemic was world wide, and devastating world wide, how did it fit into the other nations’ narratives of themselves? I wonder if we don’t remember it because it doesn’t have clear moral or practical aspects. It was totally democratic and killed all types of people seemingly indiscriminately. It was unstoppable—the size and the speed of the epidemic were overwhelming. And it was terrifying. You could follow its approach through neighboring states and then towns and then blocks. Worse perhaps, was that you could get it from anyone. In fact you would be most likely to get it from someone you were close to—a friend or a family member. It made everyone paranoid about everyone else. And it was fast. You could be healthy—and most victims were healthy, the young and healthy seemed oddly more at risk than others—and yet you could catch the disease and then like many people you could die within 12 hours, die a terrible death through drowning in your own bodily fluids, which would fill up your lungs. It was also speedy in how it spread. Over 650,000 Americans died—more than the combined total of American fatalities in World War I and II, along with the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. Worldwide, over 35 million people died. That is staggering . Even more so when you realize the bulk of the deaths took place in a ten month period—from March through December of 1918. I think part of the reason it was dealt with so inadequately, and also why it hasn’t become part of our cultural narrative, is that it happened so fast, and we humans often need a little time to grasp a new reality before we start dealing with it or narrating it.
I wonder about my grandfather, Daniel Carney Sr. In 1918, he was living in Troy, New York with his wife and two infant children. It is difficult to find a lot of information about how the flu was handled in Troy. I know that Albany closed schools and theaters and tried to end all public gatherings. I also know that there were 5,000 cases of the flu reported in Troy and that there were 147 fatalities in Troy. My grandfather was a plumber, and a union executive. He worked in many bars in Troy, which was one of the central parts and appeals of the city then. Did he lose work during the flu? I’m sure he lost sleep over how to protect his babies. Like all good Irish immigrants he must have believed that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” I’m sure he, or more likely his wife Veronica, scrubbed and re-scrubbed everything in their home. And I am certain they prayed, they did novenas and lit church candles.
I have so many questions about the epidemic, and very few answers. Why did it happen and why then? Its end almost corresponded to the end of World War I. Besides the soldiers spreading the disease, did the War impact the flu and its demise in any other way? I am fascinated by all the calm and misleading information that officials gave out throughout the duration of the epidemic. I am also curious as to why it is so rarely mentioned in reports on World War I. Over half of the fatalities from the war came from the flu, not the battles. That also is staggering to me. I’d love to get a better window into the minds and the fears of people alive then.
My final curiosities are centered on what we can learn from this epidemic to help with future ones. Because of course there will be future ones. I think the main lesson that I have gleaned from my research is that you have to deal with what you see, not what you know. People knew that there was no flu that could kill 35 million people in a little over a year. People assumed the flu could not be as bad as some said, nor as easily transmitted. And yet all of these beliefs and assumptions were being contradicted by what people were witnessing every day. Believe what you see, not what you know or expect. Life is always a surprise.
I welcome thoughts on this disaster, or on how your ancestors dealt with it. I’d also be very curious about what issues the epidemic raises for you, and what lessons you believe we can learn from it.