Even if you're a full-blooded American Indian, it is believed that your forefathers migrated to America on foot across a land bridge from Asia some 15, 000 years ago.

The rest of us are descendants of a long line of "boat people" that stretches back to the time of the first Pilgrims who took to the high seas in the early 1600s and headed for this country with little else but the courage of their convictions.

Steadily, more and more people sailed for a new life in a new land reaching a zenith in the first two decades of this century when 14.5 million immigrants sailed through the port of New York.

Why did they come? Why do they still come? they come seeking a better life for themselves, and perhaps more importantly for their children.

Traveling across this country photographing its people, one realizes that we are a patchwork quilt of a nation sewn together by the common thread of our ancestors' hopes and dreams for a better life for all of us -- their children. Barth J. Falkenberg staff photographer

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.