The story is told that some farmers once were plowing the earth behind their oxen, when they saw a king pass by, majestically clad in purple and resplendent in his shining crown, and surrounded by an enormous crowd of body guards. Since there was nothing at hand for them to present to their ruler, one of them immediately scooped up some water in this hands – for there was abundant water flowing nearby – and brought it to the king as a gift. The king said to him, “What is this you bring me, my son?” And the peasant boldly replied, “I bring what I have, since I thought it best not to let my poverty hide my eagerness to give. You have no need of our possessions, nor do you desire anything from us but good will. But for us, giving you a gift is both a duty and a praiseworthy gesture; for glory has a way of coming to those who show themselves grateful.” The king was filled with wonder, and praised the man’s wisdom; he received the farmer’s act of kindness graciously, and bestowed on him many generous gifts in return. (From a homily of St. John of Damascus on the Dormition of the Mother of God)

Both of my parents were born and raised in the same small village in Northern Greece. They both received the equivalent of a 6th grade education. My dad came to the states in 1919 and my mom in 1948, after they were married in their village in Greece. They settled in Detroit and gave birth in the early 1950s to my older sister and me. They came here and worked hard for a better way of life. They wanted their children to get a good education and go to college so they could get decent jobs and enjoy a better standard of life than they did. Something like “I don’t want my kids to have suffer like I did” way of thinking. This in a nutshell is the “American Dream”.  It still motivates many who immigrate to this country today. It is a major value that still motivates those who have been born here and their families.