Most Americans have many family immigration stories. Those of us who are second or more generations Americans have ancestors who left their homelands under unimaginable harsh circumstances but passed on few personal records to tell their story. The typical immigrant was far too busy to keep a journal, and their descendants may have discarded the once treasured naturalization or foreign birth records.
My grandfather’s naturalization records found in the National Archives
Today, Americans whose ancestors came more than a hundred years ago might consider them as the privileged ones, but these immigrant stories are just as dramatic as modern-day people who cross America’s borders illegally or wait years until their visas are approved. The immigrants from long ago didn’t just hop off the boat and get on with their lives. Their situation was often more desperate, and they often sacrificed much more. Continue reading
My father, Stanley Bryk served as a Boatswain’s Mate First Class in the US Navy during the World War II. He participated in four invasions, led the enlisted sailors of the USS Lyon and LST-372, shot down aircraft, and supervised the day-to-day operations of both ships. But, his adventures in New York City were perhaps the most distinctive and noteworthy.
His LST-372 returned to the States to be refitted and rearmed before the Normandy Invasion. While there, the crew made a short stop to New York Harbor where Stanley took the payroll master to Wall Street to fill the payroll slips for the sailors. He was allowed to use a Higgins boat which is a small boat that could carry troops from ships to open beaches. They drove the boat out, docked, took care of the paperwork, and then attempted to return to the LST-372.
A developing fog in the harbor began to pose a problem. Stanley motored around looking for the LST, but gave up and attempted to land back on Manhattan Island. Well, at least they thought they did. To their amazement, they passed a towering figure−The Statue of Liberty. Stanley knew that at least he was in New York City! They finally landed on the adjacent island; Stanley had successfully invaded Ellis Island in that dense fog.