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Respite On The Prairie

The Statue of Liberty stands in New York Harbor. But its torch, a beacon to the tired and poor, those yearning to breathe free-shines from the heartland as well.

Sometimes the American Dream is not necessarily a dream of America but a dream that America can fulfill.

So it was with the extended Gashi clan, seventeen Albanian Muslims driven by Serbs from their home and family business in Kosovo. They were among the refugees who came to America in June, and found respite from war on the Iowa prairie.

The small town of Jefferson, Iowa did us all proud. On two weeks' notice they bought the Kosovar family a house, rented two apartments and turned them into HOMES.

They fixed cracks, plugged leaks, and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. They filled the rooms with furniture, stocked the cupboards, hung clothes in the closets - all donated.

The family, though touched by what the people of Jefferson had done for them, dreamed nevertheless of returning home to Kosovo.

The Reverend Richard Glasgow of the town's First Presbyterian Church, who directed the town's charity, understood: "Home is home," he said.

He no doubt also understood that, in its need, the refugee family had helped Jefferson fulfill the American Dream of its better self--a place, a PEOPLE that lives by the creed at Lady Liberty's base, that welcomes with open arms.

The Gashi's, returned now to Kosovo, have also lived the American Dream.

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