Letter to the Editor

Land of opportunity

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dear Editor,

Many people are tracing their roots. They want to reconnect with their family trees. Ancestry.com is a great help.

In March, genealogists from other countries and the U.S. attended Roots Tech 2013 Family History and Technology Conference at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.

Recently a lady from Trenton gave a summary of her trip to German, Hungary and Czechoslovakia to an interested group of residential at El Dorado Manor.

She was visiting the homelands of her ancestors and tracing her roots.

Irving Berlin, the songwriter, was honored at the Roots Tech Conference. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang four of his tunes, including "God Bless America."

Born in Belarus, Russia in 1888, he was a Jewish immigrant. In 1893, he arrived with his parents and five siblings at Ellis Island in New York. Between 1892-1954, 71 percent of all the U.S. immigrants entered our country at that location.

Originally, Berlin's name was Israel Baelin. His family was poor. He sold newspapers on the streets of New York. He had just two years of formal schooling. With no musical training, he began his careers as a singing waiter in China Town.

A recording of his daughter, Mary Ellen, was played at the Conference. She said "the Lyrics of 'God Bless America' were personal to him. They show that his country allowed him to become what he became -- a great song writer."

America is a land of opportunity. Our roots prove that this is true for Berlin and others.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Nebraska

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