America’s rise through immigration creates a great irony. What we consider products of a distinctly American culture may not be “American” at all. Many would not exist but for the contribution of some amazing immigrants. On this Thanksgiving Day, let us recognize some of these extraordinary people.

The list of foreign-born Americans who shape our nation is awe inspiring. In business, there is Bjarne Stroustrup, Danish-born inventor of C++ (a computer programming language); Andrew Grove, Hungarian-born founder of Intel Corp.; Jenny Ming, Macau-born CEO of Old Navy; and Liz Claiborne, Belgian-born fashion designer.

In sports, there is racing great Mario Andretti, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, tennis immortal Martina Navratilova and baseball phenomenon Ichiro Suzuki. The list in arts is extraordinary and includes Yo-Yo Ma, Michael J. Fox, Ansel Adams, Gloria Estefan, Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, Neil Young and Eddie van Halen. Even American politics is greatly influenced by immigrants, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, and entertainment/political crossover Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Why do these extraordinary people come to this country? Perhaps it is because the United States provides hope for those who want to maximize their talent and ability. Even the most powerful symbol of America, the Statue of Liberty, was designed by French artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi. It is, therefore, entirely fitting that “The New Colossus” bears the inscription “[I] lift my lamp beside the golden door."

The door is golden because of those who pass through it.