I have traveled to the soil you washed from your hands
First printed in the Zajednicar Fraternalist
Croatian Fraternal Union of America
PUBLISHED on 31 August, 1988; Vol.#83/No.33; Page 6
Written by Constant (Connor) Vlakancic
A Search For Roots - Stivan, Cres, Croatia
Sunnyvale, CA -- This is a true story. For the last two years, my life is this story. It is also a story of the end of life, Not my life, I hope, for I have only just discovered but perhaps yours, as you have known it, as I hope you have known it.
-- I am a grown man with a well developed and materially successful life. There is always more to have but as in all life, a price is extracted when we indulge in our wants. As such and in the best of health, and raising my son, a son I am genuinely proud of, what more does the soul of man hunger for?
-- That which I have never known or known about. That which my grandfather left behind on the island of Cres in 1918. He bravely left on the greatest adventure of his young life. With a single mindedness, he looked forward, never went back that I know of and he built a life with the timber of the new world but on the foundation of his heritage that he knew so well but took for granted. For reasons that were his, he took this foundation to the grave with him.
-- My grandfather died when I was but a young teen. Yet I do have memories of him. A machinist at Barber-Green in Aurora, Illinois, respected and responsible, he had built his life to his measure. I did not know him real well as we (my father "his son", my mother, my sister and myself) did not live nearby. But this I know without hesitation, I never heard any words from him but articulate English. From my own father who had known him for all his life, I never heard any words except English. Whatever he knew, he also took to his grave many years ago.
Now moving forward to but two years ago, I accidentally learn (an amazing story in itself) that I am Croatian. A word, a nation, a culture that I had never known of or even heard of. A heritage to feed the hunger in my guts, in my heart. In two years, I have learned of things that I could not even have dreamed of. But this has not been learning to satisfy the hunger, this has only been learning that the food exists.
I sit writing this in a jet plane returning to the United States from three weeks in Croatia. I have lived the monumental frustration of my hunger that I do not know if I will ever surmount. I cannot communicate in my grandfather’s native tongue. Oh father of my father, why must I suffer this so. I am a bird with spirit in my heart, with wings to fly, to soar in this beckoning sky. Trapped in the small cage of my few words laboriously learned, I am deaf and dumb and nearly blind.
Through my own efforts, I have forged myself into a strong man, stronger than many. I demand of myself the courage to speak the unpopular thought, to perform the unpopular deed when in my heart I believe in the integrity of my convictions. And I will be patient as the oyster growing a pearl when actions are for naught. But I would say to you grandfather I am not certain that I can now still learn this language. Why did I not grow with it as a child?
I believe and live this; “To know and yet not to do, is not yet to know.” I have done! I have traveled to the soil you washed from your hands and walked the paths of the village that bears your footprints. But will the research that I have started ever yield to me a life I have only just discovered? This is a story of the end of life. Not my life, for I will share with my son whatever soil is on my hands. I will show him the paths with my footprints. I will show him the food that he may hunger for.
But what of your life? You, the sons and daughters born on the soil you explored with your father but now emigrated to another land, have you washed your hands? Do you share your foundation with your children? Or teach them your language? Will you take to the grave your life as you have known it?
If you do not return, with your children, then others most certainly will and your life, as you have known it, will be as dead as an old cold candle that nobody knows what it burned brightly for - or - may - never - care - again. • Constant Vlakancic/Lodge 1983
Connor Vlakancic was born and raised in the rural environment of northern Illinois, close to the birthplace of California Governor and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Vlakancic was raised in a conservative farming family environment where productive work was encouraged and respected.
His paternal Grandfather was of Croatian heritage from the Dalmatian Coast in the north Adriatic Sea, as a citizen during the end of Austro-Hungarian rule. Immigrating to America in 1917, he became a journeyman machinist.
His maternal Grandfather was of German heritage from the Alsace-Lorraine region. Immigrating to the United States in 1916, he built a substantial dairy farm in the center of the northern Illinois "Corn Belt".
Connor Vlakancic started his career in Silicon Valley, California, as an electronic engineer with Fairchild Semiconductor, Timex, Inc., Intel Corporation, National Semiconductor and Siemens Opto-electronics, developing semiconductor technologies. He also spent many years at Honeywell Instruments and Raychem Industries developing digital control systems in paper and plastics manufacturing, traveling worldwide to install multi-million dollar control systems.
During the mid-1980’s, he was an early entrepreneur in the personal computer systems revolution by founding a successful computer retail sales company in Silicon Valley. He followed this success with several years at Apple Computer as a competitive, computer-marketing annalist.
In 1990 he was a technologist in computer network standards at Networld+Interop, which, by 1995, had become the world’s largest open computer standards, tradeshow and exposition. He then joined a division of Alcoa Company responsible for a new business unit to produce desktop computer network technology products aimed at the Fortune 1,000,000 companies that were losing market-share to their networked competitors.
During the late 1990’s, he created a family reunion, live videoconference service to provide "Familia Visitas" from San Jose, California to Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico. He captured business videoconference service contracts with Western-Union, the State of California and Sprint International. Additionally, as the end of the millennium approached, he was a business consultant and due-diligence investigator for the international venture capital investors headquartered in Silicon Valley, and a business development executive at Netscape Corporation and Sun Microsystems.
His education includes undergraduate and graduate studies in Chicago, IL and California universities earning degrees in electronics and an aircraft pilot’s license. He has continued his business professional and leadership education, attending numerous extension programs from multiple Universities.
He has published technology articles in several computer magazines and has been a featured lecturer at Internet communications conferences. His most recent communications business development expertise was focused in wireless messaging application solutions. He was awarded three US and international technology patents. His past and current membership in professional organizations includes The Commonwealth Club of California, The Churchill Club of Silicon Valley and The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of several corporations. He is a current active Trustee in the Committee for Economic Development www.CED.org national policy think-tank in Washington, DC.
He is a published political author with a visionary dissertation registered in the U.S. Library of Congress, www.loc.gov (TXU-677-205), “The 1996 Federal Paradigm” on 16 Feb 1995, which defines a 10-point "contract" to be championed and advanced by the President of the United States. He presented his visionary "contract" to Rep. Newt Gingrich, Aug. 1994, which become a critical segment of the GOP “The Contract with America” in 1995. www.uwsa.com/issues/contract/A-TofC.html The visionary concepts of The 1996 Federal Paradigm did forecast and predict national and international issues which have become of paramount consequence since September 2001.
He was recommended by US Ambassador to Croatia, William D. Montgomery, and selected by the US Department of State to support international elections monitoring, with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), during the year 2000 federal elections, in the Republic of Croatia.
He has been a candidate for US Congress, the 15th Congressional District of California in 1995, 1998 and 2000 and also in the 17th Congressional District of California in 2004.
He is developing "Favorite Son" support to deliver an innovative November 2006 election campaign for US Senator (Independent) from California. He has filed a benchmark California Proposition http://caag.state.ca.us/initiatives/pdf/sa2005rf0103_amdt_2_s.pdf to provide highly popular consumer and parental relief from California ABC regulations. This proposition is planned to be included on the General Election Ballot of November 2006. He is also promoting an extraordinary California Proposition www.generation18-20.com that would reduce to elimination alcohol abuse among 18, 19 and 20 year old young adults.