July 4th, our Independence Day, has more meaning for me than any other holiday we celebrate during the year. As a first generation American, I have tremendous gratitude for being born in the United States. Because of the harrowing experience my family endured seeking the freedom that this country offered to immigrants, I will never, ever take that for granted. Let me explain.
In December 1955 on a refurbished, creaky old American Navy boat called the USS General Langfitt, 400 people set sail from Bremerhaven Germany. Their destination. . . the Harbor of New York City. During World War 2 this ship was used to transport American soldiers but in 1955 it was used to carry the poorest immigrants from Europe to America. Germans, Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, Czechs and other immigrants from Europe traveled together searching for opportunity and FREEDOM in America.
Many on the boat had waited for more than five years for this opportunity to leave their homeland. None of them spoke English or had more than $100 with them. The conditions were primitive. Husbands and wives slept in separate quarters. These humble families were not allowed to bring many personal belongings and in many cases they just had the clothing on their backs.
The trip was painfully slow. For more than 2 weeks the ship was rocked by stormy waters. Nearly every immigrant was seasick to the bone. At one point, the General Langfitt had to stop in the middle of the Atlantic for nearly three days because the waters were so treacherous. Many feared this was the last trip of their lives.
But while the immigrants were filled with weakness, fear and uncertainty, they did not complain because they knew this was a small sacrifice for what lay ahead in America.
This boat is of particular interest to me. Here is a photo of a family on that boat. The man sitting at the table is my father Nikolaus. The woman is my mother, Martha. The little boy is my older brother Ron, And the young girl is my older sister Gabriel.
The year was 1955. 68 years ago!
My Mom and Dad waited for 5 years to take this treacherous journey. They came here with only an 8th grade education, no money and only knowing only a few words of English. But what they had was far more important: a strong desire and work ethic to create a better life for their family in America, the ultimate land of opportunity.
Both of my parents passed on at the age of 88, but I want to take this moment to once again thank them for having the dream and vision to come to America.
Thank you for the sacrifice and courage to leave your culture and your country behind because you knew we had a better opportunity in America.
Thank you for your years of sacrifice and hard work that has enabled all your children to grow up and prosper in this great country.
I learned many lessons from my parents, like the value of hard work and being honest. But the most important lesson I learned from them was how important it is to practice the golden rule – treating others the way you want to be treated.
This single rule alone has had a more positive impact on the record growth of Beyond Slim all around the country than any other principle we practice. It is the cornerstone of our business and it will be the primary reason we will continue to grow and prosper as we become a bigger force for good around the world and help millions of people become fitter, healthier and happier!
Thank you Mom and Dad for your flight to freedom and the life lessons that have made a difference in so many lives around the world.
And God Bless America, the greatest country in the history of the world!