Tell the readers a bit about yourself and how you ended up in Flagler County.

I was born in Portugal and moved to the United States with my parents and five siblings at age twelve. I grew up and attended school in the Northeast. After high school I had the draft breathing down my neck, so, I decided to enlist in the Marines. After completion of basic infantry training, I found myself bound for Vietnam. I managed to survive the Vietnam War, and was discharged after completing my three year obligation. Once back home, I enrolled in college and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Fairfield University in Fairfield Connecticut. I later obtained a Masters’ Degree in Human Resources Management from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.

After graduation from Fairfield, I accepted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. I ended up making the military a career, spending a total of thirty years on active duty. During this time, I served in a variety of assignments, which included Commanding a squadron of over four hundred Marines. Preceding my retirement, I served as Deputy Director of the Operations and Intelligence Division at Naval Space Command.

I ended up in Flagler County to be close to my youngest daughter Patricia. She graduated from Florida State University and is working as a guidance counselor in the local school district. Flagler County has a couple of other features I was looking for in retirement: Palm Coast had been recently incorporated, was well laid out and it had that new a small town feeling as well as warm weather. The fact Florida has no state income tax, was also a plus.

What do you love most about this community and where do you think we can improve.

The thing I like most about this community is the small town feeling. I have traveled a great deal over my military career and after retirement. By my last count, I have been to 47 different countries. I have lived in many large and midsize cities, but I was looking for a place like Palm Coast to retire. The two things I like best are the low crime rate or public safety and the relatively light traffic. Unlike most large cities I have lived in, when I leave my house, I never have to wonder if I’m going to get caught in a traffic jam.

It’s kind of hard to improve on what we have. I know growth is inevitable, it’s how we control that growth that will determine if we will be able to maintain the quality of life we have had up to now. Don’t get me wrong, growth is not all bad. The growth of our community will bring in more and more national chain stores. This will allow local citizens to shop locally and more tax revenue will end up in the coffers of local government, but it will also bring more traffic and likely more crime.

You’ve just penned a book. What is your inspiration behind it and what do you hope readers will gain from reading your story?   

My book, ‘Making My Way in America: The story of a Portuguese Immigrant’ is highly personal. Over the years, many friends have encouraged me to write this story. Although I decided to publish it, I’m not looking for a monetary return. My story is designed to record a journey, my life’s journey from a small village in the interior of northern Portugal to my present retirement in Florida. It’s a story of hard work and perseverance. I wrote it primarily for the benefit of my daughters and grandchildren. My siblings and their children can benefit from it as well. I think it’s important that they and generations to come have an understanding of their roots and how we got here.

Every immigrant family has a story to tell. I’m sure there are a lot more compelling stories out there, this one is unique because it’s mine. We all had to overcome obstacles to make a life in this great country. Those of us who were born in Portugal feel a great affection for the country and the culture. However, it was the United States which gave us something Portugal never could, and that was opportunity. At the top of that list, was an opportunity for a formal education. For that, I will be forever grateful! It was an honor and a privilege for me to reciprocate all that was given me, by to serving our country during thirty years of military service.

My take away from this book is that regardless of where you start or come from, with hard work and perseverance you can achieve success in America. We all a different definition of what that success is. For me, I can honestly say that I am living the American dream. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed, because you can, and I’m proof of it.

As an immigrant, why did you choose America and was it all you hoped it would be?

The very difficult decision to leave our home and travel thousands of miles away to a country whose language and culture you do not understand was made by my parents. I imagine it was an agonizing decision for a couple with no formal education and six children in tow. I cared for my elderly parent during their later years and we often talked about their decision. First, they were able to immigrate to the U.S. legally. Second and foremost, they wanted to provide their children an opportunity to succeed. According to them, everyone knows that no country provides their citizens the opportunities you find in America.

As to the second part of the question, yes, America has been everything we hoped for and more.

What advice would you give to Americans for the future?

Native born Americans tend to focus on the small flaws of this country rather than the big picture. Those of us, who are American by choice, know what a great country it is. America is the envy of the world. We may not be perfect, but we are far better than any other form of government on earth. We have a constitution and a bill of rights that have served us well for nearly 240 years. We have a system of government comprised of checks and balances which is worth fighting for. Some say our system is broken and that we need to tear it down and start again. I don’t agree!  Although we may have some glitches from time to time in the balance of power between the three branches, it’s a system that has served us well. There is nothing better out there, just look around!

To order a copy of the book please visit here: Making My Way In America: The Story Of A Portuguese Immigrant: 9798388981578: Carmo, Mario V.: Books