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Seminole gets first look at new Siemens book

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Last Friday, a meeting room at the First Baptist Church of Seminole filled to near capacity as local writer Tina Siemens launched her new book, Seminole: Some People Never Give Up. The crowd was joined by a large number of Siemens’ extended family, who travelled from throughout Texas and Canada. Those included her father, David Rempel, the subject of much of the narrative.

The evening began with a brief address by Seminole Mayor John Belcher, who noted the contributions to the city and county with the arrival of the German community from Canada and Mexico. Belcher went on to urge unity, and lauded Mrs. Siemens for her tenacity over her four-year effort in writing and releasing the book. He urged citizens to share the book with friends and family outside of Seminole.

Following an introduction by Mrs. Siemens’sister Nancy, she described the book’s cover, and the contributions to the culture of each group of people represented by each form of headwear. She noted that the word Seminole means “set apart”, which is a key historical component to the Mennonite movement through time.

Mrs. Siemens noted three specific days that are highlighted in the book. On her father David’s tenth birthday, his grandfather urged him to leave the Mexican Mennonite community for a better life elsewhere. On March 26, 1977, the Rempel family, driving into Seminole, got its first look at their new home.

Mrs. Siemens’ recounted the family’s early days in Seminole, when she and her siblings hoed the cotton fields near Seminole while living in a small mobile home. She describes their exhaustion and their sunburned skin as they would return home to a single bathroom that had to be shared for bathing.

After such a day, David Rempel brought a gallon of ice cream home for his children. As Siemens describes it, it was representative of a desire to “take the focus away from my pain, and put it on living a better life.”

The third day Mrs. Siemens describes the day that she took the oath of citizenship to the United States. The day represented an end to what she described as a “roller coaster” period during which the immigration status of the family and other Mennonites remained in question.

After several extensions were filed on behalf of the Mennonites, allowing them to stay in the country a bit longer each time, Sen. Lloyd Bent-sen introduced a bill that President Jimmy Carter signed into law in October, 1980. After a period during which the family held green cards that denote temporary citizenship, on October 31, 1986, they took the oath of citizenship in the old Junior High School Auditorium.

Mrs. Siemens describes that date as the “fulfillment of our American dream.” She noted those in the room who had “put their careers on hold” to work on behalf of the group, and presented them with plaques. Those included former Mayor Bob Clark, and Lubbock Attorney Bo Brown, who she acknowledged for flying to Washington to meet with Congressman George Mahon on behalf of the group.

Also in the room were Lubbock Attorney, David Langston, who also worked on the group’s behalf, and Betsy Davis, a granddaughter of Mahon who travelled from Austin. Also recognized were local resident and longtime friend Laura Huffman, Seminole Chamber of Commerce President Shelby Concotelli. Dean and Candy Boyer of Boyer Funeral Home, Michael and Chris Gray from the from the Dallas publishing company, and Deborah Stone and Kim Prado, who filed the book’s trailer.

During a special reception and Mennonite faspa, sales of the new book were brisk as Mrs. Siemens signed copies for more than two hours. The book is also on sale at Amazon. A Kindle version is available, as well as an audio version that is available through Audible.