It was not until the bicentennial celebration of this nation in 1976 that most Americans began to proclaim publicly their ethnic backgrounds. The diversity in the cultural heritages of our citizens lay dormant for the most part for almost two centuries.
The Syrian and Lebanese Americans, however, retained their pride in the spiritual and cultural traditions of their ancestors. Under adverse circumstances they continued to maintain these traditions in their family life and in their associations.
Little has been written about the history and experiences of these people after their immigration to this country. The author of this monograph has made a contribution in describing the progress of the Syrian and Lebanese American community in the Cleveland area. These same experiences were similarly reflected in many other communities throughout the land, including my own.
This monograph includes not only the early history of these people from their origins in the Mediterranean. It focuses particularly on their daily lives as immigrants to America -- and on the difficulties they encountered in trying to maintain their traditional institutions in a new land.
The contributions of the Syrian and Lebanese people in the political, educational, professional and business life of America are numerous. These achievements were made despite serious obstacles and prejudices which they faced in the early years. This book offers one profile of
that history in the Cleveland area. Hopefully it will encourage others to expand upon that theme in a broader perspective of this ethnic group in America.
As a person of Lebanese heritage, and especially as Founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, I am well aware of the energies and dedication of these people in all aspects of American life. I am extremely proud of their civic and humanitarian activities. It is for this reason that I am pleased to introduce this monograph, which should be valuable in the study of America's ethnic diversity.