Health Masters Hand & PT MARCH 2018

How My Parents Found a Foothold in America


ith St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, many people are celebrating their Irish roots. While I may not be Irish, the holiday has got me thinking about

nearly every day of his life. They cultivated a sense of togetherness in our family and instilled a powerful work ethic in each of us. At the same time, they were both generous with their attention and love. I often tell people that my mom was the living embodiment of unconditional love, doing everything she could for the many people who depended on her.

my own family background. I’m proud of my Mexican heritage, and I’m grateful for everything my parents and grandparents went through so that my siblings and I could call ourselves proud Americans. My father immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a child, later becoming a naturalized citizen. As he aged, he went on to become an auto mechanic and built his business from the ground up. Despite the cultural tenor of those times in Texas (when it wasn’t fashionable for a Hispanic entrepreneur to grow and succeed in their business), he consistently expanded the reach and reputation of his shop. He did this by providing quality service and staying dedicated to his work. My mother was a first-generation immigrant and the matriarch of her family. My grandmother died at a young age, so my mom essentially had to raise her siblings by herself. In a poor household, with my grandfather working in Juárez, Mexico, my mother took on the immense responsibility of single-handedly raising her seven siblings. Despite these humble beginnings, each of her siblings went on to be extremely successful. Several went on to raise their own incredible families. One of my uncles became an expert mathematician and another became a federal judge — the Albert Armendariz Sr. The United States Federal Courthouse here in El Paso is named after him. Neither of my parents had much growing up, but they lived with abundant generosity, compassion, and drive, accomplishing everything without government assistance. They relied solely on their own grit and force of will. As they established a foundation for the next generation here in the States, they developed a deep respect for the opportunities the country provided.

I find my parents’ story heartening in this era of controversy. As I was growing up, it seemed as if their Mexican roots strengthened my family’s patriotism and sense of civic responsibility. When I was 10, my mom brought me along so she could vote in a local election. She stressed to me the importance of participating in our democracy. I am certainly a product of my mother, father, and their ancestors before them. Their tireless work laid the foundations for our entire family to thrive and flourish in ways I’m sure their own parents could never have imagined. For some people, their roots are just a genetic percentage, but to me, they’re everything. Without the efforts of my ancestors, I can’t imagine where I’d be today.

–Louis Zuniga

That was the environment I grew up in. My mother was the central hub for our massive family, while my father worked hard

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