Posted on

Looking back on my heritage

Looking back on my heritage Looking back on my heritage

The Pattermanns have been in this country for roughly 150 years, originally coming from Germany. However, on my paternal grandmother’s side, my ancestry and relationship with this country stretches back for centuries.

My grandmother, Sally Pattermann, née Good, was always proud of her ancestry. The Goods, you see, came to the United States all the way back in the early 1600’s. When they first arrived to the shores of America, they settled in Salem, Massachusetts. For anyone who paid attention in history class, that town is significant since it was the place of one of the most infamous events in our nation’s history -The Salem Witch Trials.

Indeed, one of my ancestors, Sarah Good, was wrongly accused of witchcraft and later became one of the first victims of that insane and hysterical time. It’s hard to think that someone would accuse another of something as absurd as witchcraft. We like to think we’ve come a long way from 1692, but I’m not so sure.

I’ve seen a lot of hysteria in the last few weeks. Some of it is related to COVID-19, and that’s understandable. But last week I also saw a lot of different opinions, views and judgements rendered on social media regarding a certain park that was defaced by graffiti.

That’s in part why I tell you a little bit about my own heritage and ancestry. I’m proud that I have had ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and both world wars. My family’s story has been woven into the greater story that is our nation’s history.

But all who have come here are descendants of immigrants, of people who came from a far away land and had to adapt to a new life and new society. It was not easy, and many immigrants returned to their home countries. They don’t often tell you that in the history books. But that doesn’t make nearly as good a story as those who succeeded and lived out the American Dream.

Of course, a closer examination of these success stories shows that these people succeeded in spite of the hurdles thrown their way. As we gaze upon the 21st century, our nation sees even more changes. In some parts of the country change comes slowly. In other parts, like Colby and Abbotsford, those changes are easy to see.

I’ve seen people share their apprehension that they will soon be a minority, that the town they once knew is gone. I understand that fear, but what we are seeing in Abby and Colby is the oldest story in our country’s book.

We have people of Hispanic heritage who have been here multiple generations now. They are a part of the history of Abby and Colby, and one day their descendants will talk about their first intrepid ancestors who came to Wisconsin centuries ago from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador.

Those that are here now are proud to call themselves Wisconsinites. They love Abby and Colby, cheese curds and the Green Bay Packers. They want to stay and live here. And when a certain park was defaced, it was several young men and women of Hispanic heritage, among others, who came and cleaned a place that’s special to them. That should make everyone proud.

I’ve said it before, change is hard, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Change can be a good thing.