Grandfather's Navy Photo

My grandfather's Navy photo
My grandfather's Navy photo

My grandfather and his family immigrated to the United States from Durango, Mexico in the 1950s. They settled in Santa Ana, California, where my father would later be born and grow up. My grandfather was only 10 years old at the time of their move but recalls an intense pressure to assimilate to American culture, despite being in a community that was predominantly from Mexico. This pressure translated into my grandfather’s wanting to serve his new country, which is why I chose to include his Navy photo as my object. My grandfather’s time in the Navy has always been extremely important in my family, but I would also argue it was the turning point for the future of my family. After serving in the military, my grandfather let go of his Mexican heritage. Despite marrying a woman who also immigrated from Mexico, they had my father and did not teach him Spanish. My father grew up in Santa Ana, surrounded by Mexican culture, but this culture stopped at his doorway. He eventually learned Spanish on his own, but it would be from his teachers and not his parents. My family’s story of immigration is not one of pride, but rather shame. My grandfather felt the only way to truly be accepted in this country was to let go of all he knew. My father was determined to change this and has raised my sister and me to understand where we come from and be proud of our past, even if we feel disconnected from it now. My family and I are still very proud of my grandfather’s service to this country, and if he were still alive today, I believe he would be proud of the progress made in acceptance.

Place(s): Durango, Mexico, Santa Ana, California

– MM

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant