When author Captain K.I. Selinidis became an American citizen, he thought he would finally be living the American dream. But in 1967, he realized that his employment, income and his family’s future didn’t look very promising. At that time, he and his wife decided it would be in the interest of future prosperity that Selinidis had to return to his sea-going career by joining the American Merchant Marine while his wife, Dee and his daughter Anna would go to and live with his family in Greece for a while until their financial condition had improved. There was only one major problem – the language barrier, which was causing disappointment between Dee and her in-laws.
During that time, no one in the author’s family knew how to speak English and none in the entire neighborhood could engage in a simple conversation in English. Dee and Anna on the other hand couldn’t speak Greek and the lack of communication was making life uncomfortable for everyone especially the author’s father because he wanted them to know who he really was and where he was coming from. Dee asked him to write down all his stories so that his son could translate them for her and his grandchildren. He immediately started writing and continued to do so until the final days of his life.
It took a while for Selinidis to start translating his father’s manuscripts – the result of which is this Book, Son of Refugees: Immigrant to the United States . Little did he know that it would be a long and difficult task, one that would take him back to the difficult times of his childhood, resurrect memories he wished would remain forgotten and relive intense emotions and dramatic family events that would make him cry. He describes life, suffering, and struggle to survive in the cruel world of the twentieth century. His father and mother both born in Greek cities of Asia Minor escaped the Turkish brutality and the Hellenic Holocaust of 1916 to 1922.
But these manuscripts are not merely stories for Dee and Anna to learn and remember. The author’s father is sending a message for all of us as he is writing for all his grandchildren and future generations. Selinidis realizes that the world his father describes is not much different from today’s world. There is still suffering, war and chaos.
Will we, the humans, ever learn from our past? Will we ever find the way to resolve our differences peacefully? Will we continue to ignore history and its lessons? The author doesn’t have the answers but we should never stop looking for them. He hopes some day, future generations may find the answers and make the world a better place for their own children.