Editorial: A letter to refugees from Afghanistan

  • The famous Lady Liberty in New York Harbor lights the way for the huddled masses yearning to be free.

    The famous Lady Liberty in New York Harbor lights the way for the huddled masses yearning to be free. Associated Press

Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 9/1/2021 12:38 PM

Dear Refugee,

America welcomes you.


We hope you find it does so with open arms. For our part, our arms will open wide. Most others will, too.

But let us apologize for any small minds you will encounter. Unfortunately, there will be some.

You will find America is an imperfect place. But we seek always more perfection.

It cannot be ignored that you may at times stumble upon mean streets and cold hearts. Humanity is, after all, flawed.

But as a whole, Americans are generous, kind and loving. We aspire not just to greatness but to goodness, too.

Let us be good to you and to your family. After a life spent so long in war, after service offered by so many to our cause, you deserve that. Thank you for all you have done.

We hope that good America is the one you find.

We do not understand or fully appreciate what it is like to be you today -- what you have been through, what hardships you have had to bear, how big your fear of the unknown is, the degree of excitement new opportunities stir in you, what tears you shed in leaving homeland and friends, how much confusion envelops you, what questions you have.

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We do not understand or fully appreciate what hopes you have for the future.

But help us to understand. Help us to appreciate it all.

We want you to discover America, to listen to us. But we want also to discover you, to listen to you. We both have obligations and opportunities in that regard.

It is somewhat natural to come to a new life and wall yourself off, to cling to comfortable neighborhoods and people who are a lot like you. To some degree, those are logical safe places to begin and get your footing.

But resist the temptation to be confined to that. Don't stay inside. Join the melting pot.

Your heritage and culture can be a great gift to America. But America's heritage and culture can be a great gift to you as well.

We can enrich each others' lives and experiences. Let's embrace that.

This new country beckons with a big and sprawling land. It is impossible to know the U.S. simply by knowing one part. The country is not New York or Schaumburg or Dyersville, Iowa, or Taos, New Mexico. It is all of that, and so much more. We are the magnificent sum of our diversity.


In the time ahead, explore all of America, from sea to shining sea. And all of our people, too.

We talk here about "the American dream." We all have grown up with it. Some have achieved it more than others, but the dream is real and universal to us all. Today, that dream is your dream, too.

Be happy. Be safe.

We lift our lamp beside the golden door,


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