AWCheney’s Forum On Immigration

Anke Cheney

Although I was actually born in Germany, I have a long history in Virginia…particularly Prince William County. I came to this country with my German-born parents when I was barely over 2 years old. A precocious child, I was already quite adept at my native language and managed to become fluently bi-lingual by the age of 3. When my parents became naturalized I actually gained dual citizenship and, of course, chose to become a citizen of the United States when I came of age. We moved to Prince William County from Alexandria (Fairfax County portion) when I was 10, almost 11 years old, and subsequently graduated from Brentsville District High School in 1969. Since then I have lived almost continuously in Prince William County, with only brief absences (college; Florida for almost a year; brief sojourns in Europe lasting from 3-6 months).

My political activism actually started in 1969, at which time I joined the College Republicans, and has continued to varying degrees to this day. As a matter of fact I could, if pressed, produce a political resume more than 6 pages long when typed and single-spaced…and that wouldn’t even include minor entries such as the various campaigns for which I did some amount of volunteer work. I did spend some time “in the trenches.” I was what you might call a Washington insider during most of the Reagan years, although I pretty much retired from politics some time before my daughter was born in 1987. Over the years since then I was often called out of retirement to handle some political “crisis” or the other but, whatever activity in which I still participated, I tried to remain very much in the background. I felt that I had “done my time,” at great personal and financial cost, and I never intended to again become as deeply involved as I once was.

The exception to that was in 2005 when Harry Parrish asked me to manage his Primary Election campaign for his 50th District House of Delegates seat, which was the first significant campaign he had faced in decades. I’d known him for about 30 years, so I just couldn’t bring myself to turn him down. It was fraught with the nastiest, down and dirty politics I had ever witnessed in all my years, and I NEVER expected to witness such here in Virginia. The stress was incredible, and I’m convinced that it was that campaign which killed Harry such a short time later. It very nearly killed me (I’m actually still physically recovering from it), so I have no doubt what it would have done to a man 30 years my senior. Obviously, they felt they didn’t have a chance of defeating an icon such as Harry Parrish without trying to destroy him. Unfortunately I’ve noticed since then that those kinds of tactics are more the rule than the exception nowadays. It’s sad on so many levels.

Anyway, I’m back to doing whatever I am able, quietly and in the background, generally from home (the benefits of the electronic age). I spent my time fighting the good fight, with honor, for many years and am satisfied with what I have accomplished. I have a wonderful, supportive family with an incredible husband who, in my opinion, couldn’t be more perfect, and two exceptional children of whom I’m very proud. All in all, I feel that I’ve been blessed and am very grateful.