Kansas City, Missouri: A city just about 4 hours drive from the incredible Gateway Arch in St Louis. A true city of The West. I had never been to the state of Missouri prior to this visit in the summer of 2010. The drive there was just as the books and movies described it. Nothing, but long endless prairie and large scale farms with windmills. It all seemed quite a bore to me and an endless string of nostalgia that my parents were enticed towards. Little did I know, this would be the very city where my family's American legacy would begin.
Just about a few miles outside of Kansas City is a miniscule college town known as Warrensburg, home to the University of Central Missouri. This university would be known as my father's alma mater. Setting foot into Warrensburg had me excited and tensed at the same time. I had never been a fan of previewing small college towns let alone in rural states where residents live practically in the middle of nowhere. Being a New Yorker I had no patience for places being located miles away. I was so used to having everything in my grasp and easily accessible. Everything had always been handed to me on a silver platter. I knew the meaning of hard work. However, that meaning to me was only reflected in numerical and letter grades handed to you by a teacher. I was about to learn that hard work and determination had almost nothing to do with grades and studying.
I had always had a great amount of respect for my Great Uncle. He had retired 4 years ago at the time and was originally a Missouri native. My aunt and uncle in Chicago were telling me about how he had four kids who were all young at the time and were still going through preteen phases. This goes back to the late 70's and early 80's when my Great uncle had established himself as a professor of Industrial Arts at the University in Warrensburg. He arrived to America from Pakistan with two suitcases and was in search of the "American Dream". His dream would be fulfilled as he settled down and bought his first home. This wasn't the biggest home and was barely able to accommodate his four kids and wife. So, he set out on a quest to build a new home. He decided it would be from scratch. the entire house was torn down and demolished. The wife and kids relocated to a small trailer on the other side of the construction zone. Four years would pass, that house would finally be built. The man had struggled long and hard to build the ideal home.
Every child , one son and three daughters would pitch in to help with siding and remodeling. Friends and his brothers who soon arrived helped him build that home from small pieces. Each member of the family would have a place in assembling this ultimate puzzle that exemplifies the meaning of the "American Dream". The man who built the home now 76 years old , retired in Orlando, Florida.
I remember as we neared the house I was a bit bored and had no interest in it whatsoever. But as we neared it and I saw it for the first time. An overwhelming sensation of awe overcame me. It was beautiful. Although it had been remodeled and someone else did live there. The house symbolized more than a constructed structure. This was a symbol of my Great Uncle's start to our family coming together in the United States from a country where we had little opportunity. This symbolized not just our desire to challenge ourselves but also demonstrated our sense of unity. Every member of the family: aunts, uncles, cousins all included has contributed to the building of this home by carrying on the legacy it began. As part of the newer generation I did not help to construct the house however, I am the one to carry on the ideals of this home.
Hard work is more than just intellectually growing. It is about determination and achieving what you want by taking action. Missouri is no longer just a half vacant state to me. It is indeed where I originate from. Every remember of my family in the United States has either gone to school there, lived there or has spent some amount of time there. There is no question that the sounds of the birds and every living creature along with the lightning and the sight of prairie will ever transport out of my mind. Long Live Warrensburg, Missouri.
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