Splitting Families Today Brings Back My Memories

All the sensational and political hype about heartbreaking troubles of illegal immigrant kids reminds me of my own similar childhood experiences. Our dad died when I was 4 and my brother 7. It happened way back during the Great Depression at the beginning of the 1930s.

Our widowed mom, who had come to America as an immigrant kid in the early 1900s, couldn’t get a job nor take care of her kids. So, she broke up the family by putting both sons in an orphanage. Our lives suddenly went from a family home to living in dorms with 40 other kids. As with children today who are taken from their families, both my brother and I at first were devastated. However, as we became acclimated, we actually succeeded in our daily group living and education experiences.

Because of our age difference, we lived in different dorms, and only got to see each other once a week for an hour after Sunday chapel services, called brothers’ line. The school, Girard College in Philadelphia, was considerably more than a poor orphanage scene from a sad Charles Dickens story.

In our ten years there, my brother and I were provided excellent living conditions and superior educations. After we left, we both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and went on to successful business careers. Mom, we know how much you suffered when you gave up your boys, but the years prove you made exactly the right decision.

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