Alexandru Nemoianu: ” The Romanian – American Personalities”

The Romanian-American Personalities

The Romanian-American group is the result of a long, complex and eventful historical process that was in full swing at the beginning of the twentieth century, a historical process that continues to add new facts and transformations to this very day.

The Romanian-Americans are part of the American nation and civilization, but they preserve a number of distinct features, traditions, customs and the faith of their ancestors. Above all, the Romanian-Americans as a group and each individual preserve the Romanian understanding of life’s meaning. The totality of these features, together with the accumulated „American“ experience of our group (which means basically the integration in the mainstream of American life), has created the Romanian-American culture and heritage.

The very fact that in the most open-minded and anti-traditional society history has ever known, the Romanian-Americans chose to preserve and develop their distinctness, represents an outstanding act of collective culture. This distinctness that defines our group, has value for the American history and culture as well. The specific features of our group are not barriers but bridges toward the rest of America, and in fact are an integral part of America. The Romanian-American „phenomenon“ is making America more beautiful, more complex and richer.

A specific feature of the Romanian-American history and culture was, and remains, a collective phenomenon, or rather was the result, the sum of a number of voluntary choices.

The Romanians (later to be Romanian-Americans) did not come to America as a group; they came individually and were admitted individually. Only after they settled in America did they choose to preserve a distinct character, in other words to become Romanian-Americans. In this view Romanian-American history is clearly a phenomenon that belongs to American history. Secondly, Romanian-American history, even if it was a collective phenomenon, was and is visible through the actions of its fundamental institutions: societies, parishes, newspapers. In such a context, a number of outstanding individuals dedicated the best of their life to promote the prestige and the good name of the local communities. These are the Romanian-American personalities. These personalities were manifested in many places: they were outstanding leaders of the local societies and parishes, dedicated priests, heroic Hierarchs, talented newspapermen, etc. They all share a few common characteristics.

They were not chosen for their social prestige, but rather they imposed through their dedication and love for the Romanian-Americans. It should be clear that from the point of view of the personal life, to be a Romanian-American leader or worker was not an asset but rather a liability. It was a dedication whose rewards were strictly personal (the satisfaction of a job well done). More than that, often those leaders or personalities were not appreciated by the rest of the community, the passive majority, but rather criticized for the inherent mistakes that happen to all those who do things. To be a Romanian-American leader meant to love the community and to be willing to sacrifice for it: time, talents and pride. Those personalities accomplished amazing things, but they were appreciated only in retrospect, „post festum.“ More than that, those leaders were in their turn always critical and harsh with the new generation of leaders. The hard time given to the new generation of leaders should be compared with a sort of initiation that, beyond its immediate discomfort, was useful to a certain degree: through it, characters were fortified and determination was checked.

The case of the Romanian-American personalities has a special importance today. We have entered a new period in which each individual is called upon to make a difference that will be measured according to moral standards. The individuals, not the society or the system, will decide if the future will be of high moral standards or will be that of a degrading relativism and ultimately of chaos. In such a context, the „case“ of the Romanian-American personalities represents an encouraging example.

Alexandru Nemoianu

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