Born in the USA: Our American Dream

Happy Independence Day! 

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  It's not because of the barbecue, adult lemonade, pool/lake/beach going or the sights, sounds and smells of pyrotechnics. It's not even because of the 1996 classic Independence Day where Will Smith did not go quietly into the night and saves the planet while kicking the tires and lighting the fires

July 4th is special to me because of the promise it delivered to my family: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." From Jefferson's pen a nation was born, the American Dream was born and 143 years later my grandfather Edward Williams was born in the USA.

Twenty miles east of Mosquito Lake, just across the Ohio-Pennsylvania border lies Greenville, PA. It's a small town of about 6,000 residents and home to Thiel College.  My grandfather was born there on August 1, 1919 to Lebanese immigrants.  They had come to America to seek out a better life, but that life never materialized. My ancestors returned to their homeland when he was just three years old. Lebanon is sandwiched between Israel and Syria.  It is an ancient land that was known as Phoenicia, but did not become a sovereign nation until the fallout of World War II.  My grandfather's formative years occurred during the greatest transition period the world and Lebanon had ever seen.  Interestingly enough, he witnessed Lebanon's own Independence Day on November 22, 1943.

However, life in Lebanon was not any easier.  My great-grandfather passed away before Edward was a teenager.  He became the "man of the house" at a very young age, caring and providing for his mother and sisters. As an accountant, he became a well respected member of his community, eventually catching the attention of the Chebli family. Along came my grandmother, May, and in 1950 they were wed and began a life together.  Yet, that life would not be in Lebanon. Lady Liberty had beckoned.

My grandfather's roots were in Lebanon, but his pursuit of happiness would carry him over a month's journey across the Atlantic Ocean, eventually landing in Philadelphia in the summer of 1954. He was alone, spoke broken English and had left behind his pregnant wife and infant daughter, Joan, in order to join his brother's business in Canton, Ohio. 

Bill's Grille and Drive-Thru was located on 19th and Harrisburg and was one of the first drive-thru's in the area. My grandfather helped bar tend, stock, and eventually manage the business. He saved every nickel he had and wrote telegrams and letters to my grandmother in Lebanon. This was their only form of communication and how he discovered the birth of his eldest son, Joe.  It took him over a year to save enough to send for his family, but in November of 1955 my incredibly brave grandmother journeyed halfway across the globe, with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, to a foreign land with nothing but a dream for her family. 

The rest, as they say, is history. A guy you all know and love, George Sr., was born in 1956 and my Aunt Lily rounded out the family a couple years later.  Today, my grandparents are 97 and 85 years old.  They have 17 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren...with three more on the way!

It is impossible to convey the courage, strength and faith my grandparents have. It is impossible to convey the sacrifices they made, obstacles they overcame, and troubles they endured to realized their own, unique American dream. And, it is impossible to convey how much this country's promise and spirit has meant to me and my family. 

As always Go Bucks,
George Jr.

Dr. George R. Williams is a general dentist at Williams Family Dental Group in Canton, Ohio. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and Canton Mercy Medical Center General Practice Residency.  For questions or suggestions for blog posts, please feel free to contact him at

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