This appeared in the Ideals Lab section of the print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sunday July 8, 2018. Since MJS no longer posts letters to the editor on their JSOnline website, I can neither link to it nor cut and paste it here. But I think this is important enough to reprint so I am going to type it below. Fingers crossed that I get it right! I have added my own title. The MJS version is just titled: Harley: an immigrant story
Motorcycle riders and the current leadership of Harley-Davidson may be unaware that the father of the company’s co-founder and first engineer, William S. Harley, was an undocumented immigrant who was illiterate and possessed no real marketable skills other than being an agricultural worker in the fields.
My grandfather’s immigrant father risked everything and faced similar treacherous experiences that current immigrants and refugees face, leaving home, friends, family, everything that was his norm. He paid an enormous amount to spend weeks in a fetid existence in steerage, crossing the Atlantic Ocean before landing at Castle Garden Island in New York harbor. Being a risk taker is a commonality among refugees fleeing untenable living conditions and make them perfect individuals to succeed in their new home and environment, The United States of America.
Data tells us that the children of immigrant refugees strive and succeed better because of their “go for broke” spirit. That spirit fueled my grandfather and his best friend, Arthur Davidson, to embrace the ideas of the combustion engine and “make it their own”. Harley and Davidson and his brothers devoted their entire lives to this iconic company, a company that became a standard world-wide.
Harley had more than 90 patents that furthered the motorcycle industry. Today, many of these patents are used as sources for current inventors, which encapsulates the exact example of the successful circle of life of invention and business in our country. A quantifier that President Donald Trump is not cognizant of because good business doesn’t have a foundation in bullying.
Sales of motorcycles can be cyclical. Decades of creative and inventive leadership sparked a well-deserved resurgence of popularity worldwide. The love and respect of the Harley-Davidson brand from early years to now is what every company hopes and longs for.
A component of the job of any mayor, governor, senator, congressperson and president, as well as a cabinet member, is to promote American businesses and industries, not to enact tariffs that keep them from being successful. President Donald Trump is doing nothing to promote American businesses.
Harley riders, enthusiasts, life long supporters of this iconic brand, don’t let this failed self-described “successful businessman” bankrupt the future of this country. Not just Harley-Davidson but soybean farmers, avocado farmers, citrus farmers. Name the crop, Trump is destroying our economy as we knew it.
So, is America better that Harley emigrated to the USA?
Margo Ann Kohl
granddaughter of William S. Harley
Bon Aqua, Tenn.