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What legacy are we leaving?

March 24, 2013
The Herald-Star

To the editor:

Wherever I have lived, be it Poland, Arizona or Utah, I have proudly shared my Steubenville roots. Steubenville always has been a symbol of hard work and sacrifice reflecting the American dream of my immigrant ancestors.

My great-grandparents immigrated from Poland to Steubenville in the early 1900s, fleeing their homeland where they could not speak their own language or worship in their own church. In Steubenville, my great-grandfather worked tirelessly in the High Shaft and other mines. When he wasn't working, he donated time to build St. Stanislaus on Polish Hill.

My grandfather, great-uncles and great-aunts, all first-generation Americans born in Steubenville, learned English and obtained elementary education in St. Stanislaus's school. After my great-grandfather died of black lung during the Great Depression, my grandfather, great-uncles and great-aunts left school and worked in bakeries, factories and steel mills in Steubenville.

During World War II, my grandfather and my great-uncles served in the Army. After the war, my grandfather returned to Steubenville, where he worked at Weirton Steel's Steubenville plant. He married my grandmother, also a Steubenville native, and raised my father and uncle there.

I am proud that I was born in Steubenville to a humble, hard-working blue-collar family with Polish roots. I remember visiting my grandmother, great-uncles and great-aunt, who told me how my grandfather worked tirelessly so I would have a chance of pursuing the American dream. My grandfather died a few years before I was born, but my father gave me his middle name so that I would always remember him.

Every Sunday, after visiting my grandmother, my parents took my siblings and me to Union Cemetery and Mount Calvary, where we planted and watered flowers, removed weeds or cleaned snow from the graves of our ancestors. I often reflected on the legacy of bravery, hard work and sacrifice that my ancestors left me.

I moved from the Steubenville area many years ago. However, wherever in the world I may be, every day I think of my ancestors and remember that they continue to live through me, and that my actions, whether they be good or bad, reflect upon them and my hometown.

I have followed recent events in Steubenville with much sorrow and disappointment. I am saddened with the obvious lack of morals, decency and discipline that now apparently prevail there. I hope parents and leaders will teach not by word but by example. The best lessons I learned in Steubenville were from my elders, whose actions spoke so loudly that they have made a lasting imprint.

For me, the recent events in Steubenville do not reflect the lessons and values I learned. I hope the light of the American dream, which once burned brightly in Steubenville and throughout the Ohio Valley, does not become eclipsed and overshadowed by thuggery, brutality, conceit and dishonesty.

What legacy are we creating for our children? Will we pass to our children the bright torch that we received from our ancestors, or will we leave our kids in darkness?

Jacob T. Muklewicz

Lehi, Ariz.

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