Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

On Heritage

I'm reading two WWI books with historical detail, the British poets of the Great War, and I've recently read some of the American literature of the time. The books talk a lot about the different cultures, about the troops, and the nationalistic pride of all involved. Which makes me think about my ancestors and how very little I know of them. I'm of mostly German and a little English descent originally, they say. Someone came across to America and the successive generations forgot most everything about having a heritage that might indicate this. My mother says that her mother baked springerlees, and that her grandmother still had some touch of an accent. But, I don't know that there is a single tradition that I continue that is German in origin. Unless potato salad counts. Perhaps this is in part because of the Great War, and the one that followed. Hearing that "Deutsch Kultur" was painted on "the ruins of one of the crematoria at Auschwitz"* and at other sites of devastation and destruction across the continent, might make one eager to no longer been seen as German. Should it matter to me, where they came from? I have never been able to puzzle it out. Perhaps I think about it more because we move more often than a lot of people and do not have as much of a sense of "home" as in "the place where you grew up and all your family lived nearby. " Maybe no one in America does anymore. Maybe this is our common heritage: moving boxes.

*The First World War : A Complete History. Martin Gilbert (note page 101)

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