September 15, 2017
Sixty years ago today Dr. Zekin A. Shakhashiri along with his wife Adma and three children Bassam, Amal, and Maha boarded a KLM flight at Beirut International Airport en route to the United States. My father was on a sabbatical leave from the American University of Beirut headed to Boston as a visiting professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. After several stops, including an overnight stay in Amsterdam, we landed in New York on Tuesday, September 17 and connected immediately to Boston.
Harvard extended my father's appointment and after three years he moved to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland where he worked until his retirement in 1990. He never went back to the homeland. My mother went back once in 1962. She died in January of 1990 in College Park, Maryland. My father died in June of 2001 in Madison.
My sister Amahl and her husband Frank Drake live in Santa Cruz, California. Their daughter Nadia lives in San Francisco and is a science writer. Their daughter Leila lives with her husband Chris in Santa Barbara and is a professional ballet dancer.
My sister Maha and her husband Victor Abdunuur live in Sterling, Virginia.
My wife June and I live in Madison. Our daughter Elizabeth, UW-Madison and Michigan Law School alumnae, lives with her husband Bob in Chicago. They are expecting their first child in a few days.
We are grateful for the great hospitality extended to us since we set foot on US soil and we are thankful for the wonderful opportunities we continue to enjoy. May all immigrants and native-born citizens continue to prosper in the goodness of America.
Thank you America.
Bassam Z. Shakhashiri