We Built America
The saga of how immigrants helped build this great country is often shadowed rather than showcased, marginalized rather than magnified, and ignored rather than embraced.
2019 marks the sesquicentennial of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad — a capital project that literally and metaphorically brought our country together after the Civil War. On July 1, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act.
A labor force of Irish, Greeks, Germans, Chinese, former slaves, and veterans of the Confederacy and Union armies, impressively worked together for seven years. On May 10, 1869, a golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah, heralding the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad in the United States. Over 1900 miles of track was laid, across hostile plains and through seemingly impossible mountains, connecting the East Coast to the West Coast.
What used to take months to travel from coast-to-coast, either by boat or stagecoach, had been shortened to only one week via train. The United States of America was now connected from sea to shining sea. The country was revolutionized because of the indomitable spirit and tenacity harnessed by immigrants from all over the world.
Our goal is to tell this story from the point of view of the immigrants who built the railroad, so that students carry forth this narrative as part of what it means to be American.
To kickoff our initiative, we have been selected as one of 49 new participants in the momentous and illustrious Rose Parade 2019 . We have already provided funds to the Tournament of Roses. Our float entry, Harmony Through Union, is co-sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad, one of the three railroads that built the Transcontinental Railroad. UP is still operating today as one of the major transportation corporations in America. But our float is only the beginning of the journey of this unique project.
A continuous and robust educational curriculum program follows up the Rose Parade. We have developed curriculum for grades K - 5. An informative and fun Coloring Book for Kindergarteners and 1st to 2nd graders; an action-packed historic Comic Book for 2nd through 5th graders; and an engaging Graphic Novel. The material will be supplemented with Teacher Guides and distributed without cost to school systems nationwide. Our team includes award-winning educators and writers from across the country; they are consulting on all the content and development.
This noble cause shines a spotlight on the powerful contributions of immigrants to the creation and completion of the epic Transcontinental Railroad. That is why the Chinese American Heritage Foundation is championing this multi-ethnic cause — for, indeed, that is why we proudly declare, We Built America!
Funding is needed on an ongoing basis throughout this year and beyond, as we prepare, publish, and release the materials.
Join in this celebration and commemoration of an important milestone in American history. Be a part of this bold movement to affirm the power of uniting together as disparate people for a worthy goal. E pluribus unum (out of many, one).
Bringing attention to the contributions of immigrants to the building of America strengthens our resolve as a nation to stand as a beacon to the world that people of all ethnicities can work together and triumph for the common good!
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