A girl from a distant country left her parents behind. She crossed an ocean to the United States and joined her brother, who had been living there for years.

She was my great-grandmother. The country she left behind was Germany, which had been at war with its neighbors and would shortly be at war with the United States. But she was not held at her port of entry. She was not sent back.

She settled in Kansas and became a farmer, raising dairy cattle. Some of her children farmed as well. One grandchild became a nurse. One became a scientist. One great-grandchild is a bank manager, another a poet.

All of her descendants are productive citizens of our adopted country. Five of them live in Maine today. We pay taxes. We read newspapers. We vote. When I think of my great-grandmother, I’m grateful to the country that took her in and that didn’t hold her accountable for the actions of a few of her fellow Germans.

When President Trump thinks of his grandfather, who also came here from Germany, is he grateful as well?

As one child of German immigrants to another, I hope that he will hear stories like this and reconsider his policy to ban people like my great-grandmother and his grandfather from our shores. I hope he will remember that so many of us – he and I included – are the children of courageous refugees who left everything to build a new life and who built a country in the process.

Sarah Thomson


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