My mother was born in West Virginia and that made her an American citizen by birth. Her father was a naturalized German-American, and her mother was a native Italian. Her parents decided to raise her in Florence, Italy.
When it became clear that the Fascists were going down a path of no return, my mother and her father decided they had to get out of Italy. They flew to Lisbon on the last airplane to leave Rome before the airport was shut, and they crossed the Atlantic on the last passenger ship before German U-Boats began sinking them. They arrived in New York with little more than their clothes. My grandmother stayed behind in Florence, and she never saw her husband again.
A few days before I left for college, my father told me, “Your education is your most valuable asset.” I was seventeen, and I thought everything my father said was stupid, so I challenged him, “How can that be?”
He said, “Because your education is the only thing they can’t take from you at the border.”
You see, besides her clothes, my mother brought something else with her when she arrived in New York. She was fluent in Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English. She was good enough at math and science to enter university as a Physics major.
She was educated – and the Fascists could not take that away.
Your Education is Your Most Valuable Asset.