The 4 A.M. Army

A couple of days ago I was reading an article called “The 4 A.M. Army” published by TIME Magazine where they talk about how every morning, hundreds of thousands of workers show up at employment agencies for jobs that no one sees, that are underpaid but that are essential to the economy.

As I read the article I could not help but remember my parents who did this type of work for years. Every morning it was the same routine. Wake up at 4 a.m., go to the employment office, and sit around hoping for your name to be called, and that you could be sent to the same job you went the day before.

Some days, my dad would come back at the end of the day, happy to have worked a full day. Others, he would be back around 9 a.m., after waiting 5 hours just to find out that he would not be needed that day. He, like the hundreds of thousands of other parents, grandparents, siblings, sons and daughters, was a commodity to the employers and the employment agencies. When they needed him they used him, when they did not they would disregard him.

Most people won’t see the armies of people, most of them undocumented Hispanic immigrants, parading to these employment agencies to pick up the scraps, the jobs that no one wants, the underpaid jobs that keep the U.S. economy going.

But the truth is that these workers are not anonymous or just a number on a list, they are our families, they are our siblings, our parents, they are us. Our community is a reflection of ourselves, and we are a reflection of our community.

It is also true that most of these loyal workers are first generation immigrants whose primary goal is to work to give their children a better life. And WE are those children for whom they sacrifice so much.

And now it is time for the children of this 4A.M. army to value and reflect on the sacrifice of our parents. Yes, we cannot undo what they have done for us, nor do we want to, but we can show them that their sacrifice is not in vain through our commitment to education, to excellence and to a better future, not only for ourselves but, most importantly, for them.

A lot of times, our success is not about what it means to us, as much as what it means to those around us that want to see is succeed.

So if we have an education, we need to value it and celebrate it with pride. We need to go onto the world and show that the sacrifices of our community do matter to us. If we are in the process of getting our education, this reality should give us a boost to continue and reach our goals.

At the end of the day, our community and its struggles is a reflection of ourselves, and we are a reflection of it. Let us not forget where we come from, instead, let this road that our parents have paved for us show us the way!


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