You hear a lot about the complexities of modern life, about how kids today are under much greater pressures than their parents faced because of the rapid evolution of technology, the constant changes brought about by a global economy, the uncertainty of a deteriorating environment and the threat of terrorism.
But, while there's plenty to be concerned about, I'm not so certain that the threats facing my children are any worse than those uncertainties faced by my own grandparents when they left their native Denmark for an uncertain future in the United States in 1920.
My grandfather, a journeyman cabinetmaker on the island of Aero, left his picturesque home with his young bride to spend the better part of three weeks in the belly of a large transport ship, alternately ingesting and vomiting bowls of cabbage soup en route on an uncertain American odyssey that began at Ellis Island.
After making his way by train to Iowa, he looked for work in a land where he didn't know the language. Although he had the good sense to relocate near a sister who had preceded him in migrating to the United States, he was forced to take janitorial work in his early years.
Rural Iowa at that time had no electricity, much of the plowing was still done with horses, there was no indoor plumbing in his home, there was no Social Security, no retirement plan, you couldn't legally buy liquor, there were no commercial radio stations in the entire country, penicillin and antibiotics had not been discovered yet, the average life expectancy was around 50 years and the future of baseball was very much in doubt with the indictment of several major leaguers in what would be known as the Black Sox scandal.
But somehow my grandparents came through all that to raise five great kids, including my mother. And, though other family members may know otherwise, I never knew my grandparents to complain about the life hand they were dealt.
For their perseverance and resilience, I am profoundly grateful. I'm certain their story is more or less typical of the millions of immigrants who landed in America around the same time.
As you work on your family history projects, remember to honor properly those who have paved the way for your own achievements through their life's journey.