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In 1912, a young Greek man named Nicholas, eighteen years old, was living in the Turkish-occupied city of Mytilene. The First Balkan War was months away, and Nicholas might have been drafted into the Turkish army in its war against Greece. Instead, he boarded a ship bound for New York City to make a new home in America.

He had little education, no special skills, no ability with English, and he had the equivalent of twenty-five dollars in his pocket. Had "merit-based" immi ... gration laws been in effect in 1912, he would probably have been denied entry into this country. Instead, he was one of millions who were welcomed here in their quest for a better life in America.

In New York, Nicholas married Varvara Darabara, another Greek immigrant from Mytilene. He worked a variety of jobs, including waiter and bartender. He became a US citizen, and Nicholas and Varvara settled in the upstate village of New Paltz, where they had three children. Their two sons both became college graduates, United States Marines, and university professors. greek style prom dresses

Nicholas Manolakes was my grandfather. I am the proud grandson and great-grandson of immigrants, grateful to have been born in a nation that has been enriched and strengthened by the contributions of immigrants, past and present.

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