Now, with the Promised Land in sight, our hero is confronted by the very voice of the Old World - the cynical, brutish, cuckolded husband who is about to turn him over to the authorities. But before he does, the old man taunts him: Don't you know this new world will turn out to be as corrupt as the old? Just what do you expect will happen to you in this wonderful America of ours? And the young man answers without thinking: "I will be washed clean."
You can't stop someone like that, not so long as he has breath. He is already an American. He believes in the future. He believes in the dream. He believes in the possibility - no, the reality - of redemption.
My mother, who was not given to exaggeration, or to idle speech in general, used to tell about standing in the desperate crowd in front of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to apply for a visa amidst the ruin that was Poland after the First World War. Nineteen and alone, she had little more than the clothes on her back and an address in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
But she would not be stopped. She remembered slipping off her shoe from time to time so she could use the rubber heel to erase anything on the application that, according to the endless rumors that moved up and down the line, might keep her out. She had plenty of time to consider and reconsider each entry on the form, to write and erase, and then rewrite and re-erase, to pray and pray again . . . .
What wouldn't she have done to get to America, America! She was always thankful she made it.
So am I, so am I.