ASSYRIANS IN THE US
There are about half a million Assyrians in the US, more than any country outside the Middle East. Assyrians live in many parts of the US, especially in the Midwest, California, and Arizona.
Many Assyrians belong to the Assyrian Church of the East, established by the apostle Thomas in 33 AD. The church moved its base to Chicago in 1940, to escape violence against Christians in Iraq.
Assyrians speak Aramaic, an ancient language once spoken over much of the Middle East. It is the same language that was spoken by Jesus Christ. Assyrians have their own alphabet, which formed the basis for ours. Its 22 letters are written from right to left. Many Assyrians are only now learning to write in their native alphabet, because it was banned by the Iraqi government.
Assyrians also have a unique style of music and dance, which includes traditional songs as well as new favorites. Assyrian musicians from places around the world where Assyrians have settled can be heard on YouTube. Assyrians in the US do not wear traditional "Assyrian" style clothing. Instead, they select American fashions according to the greater modesty of their culture. For special events like weddings, though, Assyrian women make beautifully decorated scarves that are used in a traditional dance.
As Christians, Assyrians celebrate Easter and Christmas. They also have other holidays like Assyrian New Year on April 1st, and Assyrian Martyr's Day August 7th.
Assyrians in the US struggle to maintain traditional values and customs, at a time when most Americans have turned away from the old values on which our country was built. Our culturally diverse nation has been a safe haven for Assyrian Christians, but they have a gift for us as well. Perhaps they can help us regain the integrity and purpose that we have lost from our own culture.