I've built my campaign around defying odds and challenging convention. I talk a lot about possibility - that it's possible for North Carolina to elect a female Senator - only the third in its history, that it's possible to run a successful campaign without dependence on organizations and individuals to provide millions of dollars in financing, and that it's possible for the idea of America to continue on the great path that's been set out by the dedication of so many that have given their time, their passion, their lives to make it great.
I've never once been asked why I chose "it's possible" as my campaign slogan, or how I can be so steadfast in these beliefs in a time where our nation is facing difficulty, division, and struggle. I've never been asked why, in a dark hour for our country, I still believe in the greatness and possibility of America or why these challenges fuel my patriotism and foster even greater belief in our great nation. It is an honor and a privilege to share these thoughts with you today.
My grandfathers arrived on ships from Italy as children. Oral history is an important part of keeping our family and our values alive. As a result, there are two stories about my grandfathers that have been passed down with such determination and detail, that their importance is not lost on me:
1. My grandfather was a five-year-old boy in Italy when his father sent him to begin an apprenticeship with a shoemaker. His father, a self-described field-worker, was doing everything he could to set my grandfather up for an easier life. Each day, his father would drop him off at the shoemaker. And each day, my grandfather would cry and run away... until one day... when the shoemaker nailed his pants to a chair. Eventually, my grandfather managed to get out of his apprenticeship and he left Italy at the age of 15. He and his brothers spoke no English, they received no special support or aid from the United States government in pursuit of survival, the American Dream, or their citizenship. Through family and community strength and support, all three of them went on to obtain citizenship and serve in the United States Army. My grandfather went to War College, and was also a very accomplished artist, an incredible dancer, and the father of four children. It's possible.
2. My other grandfather also came from Italy as a child, and his family settled in an Italian neighborhood in Orange, New Jersey. In his neighborhood, Italians taught each other English, sought out jobs for each other, and supported each other in their pursuit of the American Dream. My great grandfather, also a self-described field worker from Italy, opened a barber shop where my grandfather learned to cut hair. People would frequently ask my great grandfather if he planned to go back to Italy - as all of his siblings, parents, aunts and uncles were there. And every time, my great grandfather would reply, "Even if they built a bridge, I'd never go back." My grandfather eventually went on to open a successful inventory business with my dad, and never once returned to Italy. It's possible.
My grandparents came to this country pursuing the idea of America, and in their own ways, each of them contributed to the greatness that you see all around you today. All of them faced great struggles, fought and clawed their way in pursuit of the American Dream, and emerged victorious. It's possible.
My grandparents have long passed, but their values live on through us - always help others, make life better for the next generation, and NEVER take for granted all that America has to offer. Their lives and stories are proof to me that - It's possible.
(Note: this picture is from my parents’ wedding day.)