Every time I look at my parents or even think of them, pride overwhelms me. My life and world is all thanks to them. I especially admire their determination during our struggle coming to America.
Our native country was Vietnam, but, forced to escape the communists, we had to leave our home and all our belongings and go on a long boat journey to America. I was two years old and the youngest of seven children. I thought of how I could have been such a burden on my parents but they have always assured me that I was wanted.
This journey was not easy for my parents, but throughout they thought of their children first. I was even told that they once ate only apple peels, sparing the fruit part for me. This was special because at that time many children were abandoned by their parents. My parents' many sacrifices are admirable.
Our journey to America was not the last of our struggles. We were also faced with starting a life in America with nothing. My parents' fierce determination to give their children a good life was what has taken us where we are today. Of course our beginning years were hard, living on just enough food bought with food stamps, wearing second-hand clothes and playing with toys bought at thrift shops. Almost everything we had was bought at thrift shops, but we were happy because we knew we had a chance in America.
My parents worked very hard to build a better life. I will always remember how my dad used to wake me up in the morning by pulling me down to the end of my bed just enough so that my legs hung over the edge so he could put my shoes on. Then he would make my cereal and then off we went to the bus stop. I was dropped off at kindergarten and my dad walked on, often in the snow, to English language school while my mom went to work. After a few years my dad went on to get a degree in business and a better job. My mom got another job and slowly our living status began to rise. We went off welfare, then my parents bought a car and gradually they saved up enough money to buy a house; this was the true sign of our prosperity.
We moved out of the apartment, leaving all the hard times behind, and moved into our house, starting our new life. Today we own three cars, (one of which is a Mercedes Benz), and two houses, and we live very comfortably. But my parents' greatest achievement is knowing that they have proven that nothing is impossible. To this day they are looked up to by people they have inspired. I greatly admire my parents and therefore I would like to give them a loving and heartfelt thank you and a proud tribute for accomplishing their dream, the American dream, giving truth to the phrase "America the beautiful." n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.