Southwest, USA

Where I come from.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of my great grandparents’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley from Mexico. In commemoration of Jose and Juana Zuniga, I decided to post this photo on my blog to pay tribute to them and show a little gratitude for the sacrifices that they made to create opportunities for future kin that they would never meet, at least not in this life.

When you look back at the US census of the time you see my great grandfather’s occupation listed as janitor. From what I know about him, he was an extremely hard worker, and so was my great grandmother. This picture shows them with their daughters and sons, one of which is my grandpa Joe (second from left). What touched me the most about this photo was seeing one of my great aunts holding a guitar as she looks straight into the camera, as if to say, “We came here, so you could have this.”

My #grandpa Joe Zuniga on a #horse doing his best #panchovilla impersonation with my #abuelita Maria at his side.

A photo posted by Scott Zuniga (@scottzuniga) on

My aunt gave me this photo of my grandma and grandpa somewhere in New Mexico or Texas. If you had to imagine their story from this photo alone, you might think my grandpa was some sort of bandito, or perhaps a ranch farmer. Who knows, maybe he was a little of both. But what I’m sure of was that he spent years working for railroad companies across the southwest performing hard labor and saving money to buy land to build a number of properties with his siblings across Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. His entrepreneurial ambitions led him to create a successful trailer park that still exists in Southern New Mexico to this day.

Because of that hard work, their children and grandchildren have all received the blessings of education and carry titles today such as teacher, manager, chemist, artist, musician, mother and father among others. But more important than the titles that we carry individually is the story that we carry collectively as a family. A story that started long before any of us were alive but that in no small way dictates who we are today and the opportunities that we now enjoy.