opportunityThis week’s column takes a holiday from staffing industry topics and trends. With the 4thof July falling in the middle of the week, no one is quite sure which one is the holiday weekend – so perhaps it’s best to celebrate all week! And celebrate the birthday of America we should because we are fortunate to live in a land founded on the ideals of freedom and democracy and the simple principle that all of us are created equal. The promise of America is one of freedom; the freedom and independence to make your own choices, to think for yourself and to be free from persecution because of your religion, your ethnicity, the color of your skin or your sexual orientation. This promise is one that belongs not just to Americans but to the world. To those living under oppressive conditions anywhere in the world, the ideals that America was founded upon are a shining beacon of hope. The invitation to join this great nation, to find liberty and happiness and to contribute to the success of the country is one that many have accepted since its founding in 1776.

It is an invitation that my family accepted in 1965 when my mother, father, sister and I, at the age of 23, came from Poland to the United States. Each immigrant family has its own reasons for making the decision and often times it is economic opportunity that drives it. For us, it was the promise of freedom – political, religious, economic, etc. – when you live under a communist dictatorship the ways in which your personal liberty and happiness are infringed upon are nearly countless. Though my father was 62 years old when we left Poland, and though we left behind a relatively profitable life to move where we didn’t even speak the language yet, there was no question in our minds and hearts that this was the right thing, the only thing, for our family to do. We were so very right about that. We have been blessed in many ways with happiness, success and freedom. For my parents, and for me, that was a promise kept.

The ideals of personal freedom and responsibility, liberty and equality helped to found this country in 1776 and to ensure its growth and prosperity for the next 236 years – and counting. The United States is still a land of opportunity for anyone with dedication, passion and a willingness to work hard. When we entered the US, my parents had to sign a document stating that we would not become a burden on society; we had to promise to work and earn our own way. We never expected anything else, we set about as a family to learn English and find work. I worked full time while I attended college, as did my sister, who became a doctor. It is a lesson that has served me well throughout my life: work hard; study and apply yourself; have goals, and you will reach them.

These are challenging times to be sure but certainly no more challenging than our country has faced before, including America’s founding moment. We prevailed then and we will prevail now. Together we must dedicate ourselves to the hard work ahead but know that it has always been this way. The United States of America and its individual citizens do not succeed by avoiding difficult issues or sitting around waiting for something to happen, we work to make success a reality. We live in a land of freedom and opportunity. This week, we take a moment to celebrate our nation’s history and commitment to its founding ideals. I am so proud that my parents had the courage to take advantage of the opportunity the United States promised and I am thankful for the blessings of my life; a wonderful wife and daughter, colleagues that I respect and enjoy and a country that provides us all the opportunity for success, if we are willing to take it. Happy birthday America and happy 4th of July everyone!

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO
ATR International


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