Last fall we drew attention to Peter Schramm’s essay “Born American, but in the wrong place.” Peter and his family left Hungary after the Communist revolution and made their way to America, thanks to the sagacity of Peter’s father:
[W]ith the revolution failing, everyone expected that the Communist boot was going to come down harder than ever. But before we had more opportunities to experience it, an odd accident set us on the path to a very different future. On one of his trips out to secure some bread, a hand grenade landed next to my father but, miraculously, did not go off. That was the last straw. He came home and announced to my mother that he was going to leave the country whether she would come or not. Mom said, “O.K., William. We will come if Peter agrees. Ask Peter.”
“But where are we going?” I asked.
“We are going to America,” he said.
“Why America?” I prodded.
“Because, son. We were born Americans, but in the wrong place.”
He said that as naturally as if I had asked him what was the color of the sky. It was so obvious to him why we should head for America that he never entertained any other option. Of course, he hadn’t studied American history or politics, but he had come to know deep in his heart the meaning of tyranny. He hungered for its opposite and knew where to find it. America represented to my father, as Lincoln put it, “the last, best hope of earth.” I would like to be able to say that this made my father a remarkable man for his time and his circumstances. For, in many ways, he truly was a wonder. But this is not one of those ways. Among the Hungarians I knew