I have heard it said that God’s greatest blessing is a mother’s love. That said, I will try to be objective in describing my son and his quest to be elected to Congress representing New Jersey’s 7th district.
Though this is not a path I would choose for him, long ago I predicted my son, Thomas Roughneen, would be involved in politics and law. I grew up in Ireland where politics divided families and neighbors. It still does today and not only in Ireland. But for Thomas, his interest in politics has been long-standing. I remember tripping across his stacks of newspapers and copies of Time magazine when he was just in high school. To this day, I have to put my food down at family gatherings to end heated political debates.
I was raised far from blogs, closer actually to bogs. But I have never been stuck for words and I am glad to have the opportunity to participate in the election in this way. What I would like to share about Thomas is a reflection of what I value in this country. The United States is the land of opportunity and Thomas’ accomplishments were earned largely through his own determination to achieve his goals.
As the first born of five siblings, he was always in a position of responsibility and I had faith in his judgment. We were the typical working class family. From working two jobs and driving second hand cars, I still made time to prepare home cooked meals and see to it that we ate meals together as a family. Evenings were spent sharing tea and stories at the dinner table. We were humble from a financial position, but we instilled pride in our children to keep them on the right track. What I offered my children were lessons from experiences in rural Ireland and then as an immigrant in America. I placed my family’s well-being above all and I taught them respect for young and old, traditional values and the importance of hard work.
In the truest sense, we were well connected, not because we shared cocktails with the wealthy but because we had neighbors, friends and the Irish-American community. From Irvington to Union and then Mountainside, my family received and lent support in good times and bad. The collective community was an invaluable support system. We learned from each other how to prepare our children for the decisions they faced. I am proud to say that all five of my children obtained a college education and did so here in New Jersey at Rutgers University. Today I am the proud mother of three military pilots, and attorney and a nurse.
Although we had great friends, nothing was handed to Thomas. He always had the support of his family but truly his accomplishments were earned on his own. That includes his education and career path. He has sought and obtained multiple advanced degrees. He has traveled throughout our country and also abroad to Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Russia, China, Kuwait, Iraq, England, Germany, Spain, France and of course Ireland. His energy and determination have served him well. I can hardly keep up with him and to be honest, I find myself telling him to slow down.
On Easter Sunday, I stood between two of my sons at Mass. As the congregation prayed for soldiers and their families, I wiped tears from my chin thinking of all they have done for this country through their participation in the military. I also wept for myself. I said goodbye to my youngest son who began his deployment last month. His twin brother, who stood beside me on Easter, will deploy next year and spend his second Easter in Iraq. These sacrifices take a toll on families and watching my four sons prepare and leave for deployments has left me sobbing. But I would not change who they are. I would not change my decision to raise them in them in this country. I may be an immigrant, and I know that term is treated with disdain by many, but I am a proud immigrant and a prouder American. My four sons volunteered to serve and they remain true to that pledge. I may cry but I still say this is the greatest country in the world.
I hope this blog helps you to know my son and his background. Thomas and his wife, Alice, decided together to begin this campaign and with the support of friends, family and the 7th District I believe he will win.
I look forward to your feedback.