The following is an excerpt from Petula Dvorak | January 30, 2017 | Thewashingtonpost.com |
When they came through the arrivals gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1968, my parents could have been seen as a threat.
It was the middle of the Cold War, and my parents — my mom was 21 and my dad was 23 — had spent their entire lives behind the Iron Curtain in a communist country. And 1968 was the bloodiest year yet for American troops in a war being fought to contain communism. Nearly 17,000 Americans died that year in Vietnam.
And here came Ludmila and Josef Dvorak through the airport gates in the middle of all of that, in the fanciest clothes they owned, two people with paperwork, Czechoslovakian passports, that linked them to communism.
They were not detained, they were not questioned. They were allowed into a country symbolized by the Statue of Liberty.
That was the America of 1968. It is not the America of today.
My parents watched the scenes unfolding across the country this weekend, as people like them — refugees with nothing more than suitcases and dreams — were treated so differently when they walked through those airport gates.
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