It was 1970 and I was working at The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, a paper that had the nerve to claim it was one of the 10 best newspapers in the world. But I got my news from the CBS station in Buffalo and The New York Times. Our son, David was 8 and I was 43. The thought hit me that in just 10 years David would be faced with a momentous choice, to be a Canadian or to go to the American Consulate to assert his U.S. citizenship.
The Vietnam war was on and Tricky Dickie was in the White House. The United States had just illegally invaded Cambodia. Ohio National Guardsmen had just killed four students at Kent State. Was that the country I could recommend to David?
I sat down at my typewriter and did what writers do. I wrote a book — for David. I told him about his hometown in Celina, Ohio, about the Hough and Glenville riots in Cleveland, and about my run-in with the machinery of “loyalty,” which denied me an army commission and got me thrown out of R.O.T.C.
I also told him about the American dream, of a country living up to its Fourth of July speech,
It is not a dull read.
Not every kid gets a civics lesson for his seventeenth birthday, written by his father, to help him make one of the most important decisions of his life, but I did.
It was an incredible gift then, and it’s even better now, post 9/11, post “Patriot Act” and when Americans are faced with a new reality— one where America isn’t the most loved country in the world as it once was.
Written around 1969 in Toronto Canada, where we were living, my father thought it might be a good idea to provide me a handbook on the country we left while I was too young to understand what democracy was, or why there were National Guard troops standing outside our apartment’s entrance. It was to be read in 1980, when he thought I’d have to declare my citizenship as Canadian and renounce my native land—or go home.
That decision was made for me- we moved back in 1971, but the book was still given to me when I was old enough to understand the principles of the United States and where we get it right— and wrong.
Today, this look at what our country is, and what it was meant to be, is even more relevant. For people who want to know why David Esrati is the way he is, this may be the best place to start.
My father and I are giving away this gift, sharing it with the world, in the hope that a better-informed public may help restore the ideals and dreams of the founding fathers.
If you like this book, please consider making a donation to my campaign for congress. You can also send this link to others and encourage them to read it— and discuss it here.
The book can be downloaded (In Adobe’s Acrobat/PDF format) for free at the link below. If you like it, please consider donating to my campaign.