A Name for Herself

The recent election of a woman, a child of immigrant parents from India and Jamaica, demonstrates the possibilities in America. Her parents met in a study group while in college, and Vice-President elect Harris credits her mother’s influence for much of her success.

Strong women had a big part in our country’s development, and as demonstrated by the election of Kamala Harris, they still influence it.

            Kent Van Til tells the story of his grandmother who landed on Ellis Island in 1898. The youngest of the four Recker children, Hermina would become an American along with her family and be eternally known as “Minnie.” Van Til’s story follows her from New York to Chicago to Montana and back to the mid-west. His story is a tribute to the grandmother who told him at age ninety, “Well, I sure haven’t made a name for myself; maybe one of you grandkids will.”

            Minnie’s story is such an American one, and not simply because she became a citizen, but because she, like so many other immigrants to America, pioneered, married, fought in wars, loved, and labored for a life in this great land. Without women such as Minnie and their counterparts, we would not be the country we are today. Immigrants we all are, and while all our names may not be known over the land, all our names ring in its history.

            A Name for Herself is a loving tribute to a woman who was not special in a national way, but so important for her determination, grit, and love for her family and country. Minnie did not complain, even when confronted with the early death of her beloved husband Pete and other griefs of life. Instead of offering excuses, she gave love. Instead of grumbles, she gave effort. Her quiet work is a reason for celebrating her life and all the others like it.

            The only complaint I have is that the book is too long on some information, such as the history explaining why Minnie did not especially like Catholics. I found this type of information became a bit “preachy”, overshadowing the story. However, I recommend A Name for Herself as a good read about a remarkable woman, one of many. Just ask Senator Harris.

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