My parents had 10 children. They worked very hard to raise us. My parents grew up during the Great Depression. Dad's family travelled the country as migrant workers in pursuit of work. They travelled by crop. They picked cotton in the south and traveled to the Midwest to pick vegetables and fruit. Over the years, my Dad was hired by the State of Michigan to bring pickers up to Northern Michigan. He brought entire families there to pick strawberries and cherries in the Traverse City area. They also picked cucumbers, beets and onions.
After a few years he found work at an auto factory and moved his family permanently to Michigan. My Dad was a very hard worker. He worked from 6am to 3pm at the factory. He came home and ate a quick meal. Then he moved on to his second job as a house painter. He had a third job hauling sawdust to the factory floor. He did this twice a week for $40 a load. My mother stayed home and cared for all of our family.
Dad instilled in each of us his work ethic. Every summer after school ended, he took my mother and all of us children up to the Traverse City area to pick Cherries and Strawberries. He wanted to teach us the importance of hard work. He said, "Never be lazy. Work hard. Do a good job." He also said, "Never, ever take welfare or take a hand out. It is better to starve than to take a hand out." He added, "Welfare is wrong. It ruins you. You become lazy and afraid to work. You have to work for your own self esteem and for your family."
My Dad also encouraged us to complete our education, find decent, good paying jobs, but most of all to love and care for our family.
Today, on Memorial Day, I remember my Dad and all those he helped. I see his eyes in the eyes of my children, grandchildren, and relatives across the country. Dad instilled his work ethic in all of us and for this I am very, very grateful.