Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Bad Sign

On Independence Day each year, we have a worship service at our church around the flag pole. It is always a short, casual service consisting of Patriotic songs, Prayers for our country, and a “retiring of the flag” ceremony led by a local boy scouts troop.

I usually am in charge of getting the music together and leading the songs. Patriotic songs are some of my favorite songs I think because of the memories they spark. Besides Earth, Wind and Fire and the Grease soundtrack, Patriotic songs are some of the first songs I learned as a child.

I never really thought of myself as a very patriotic person until I went on a trip to Washington DC that got me in touch with my internal Red, White and Blue. Since then I recognize the lump in my throat as I sing the national anthem, the pride I feel when an American wins a gold medal at the Olympics, and the disgust I have when I see things like what I saw on my way to church yesterday.

On my way to church I saw a sign hanging from a tree that read. “America is for Americans.” My kids sat in the back of the car while I let that statement sink in. I thought about my heritage and how much my Cuban Grandfather and Puerto Rican Grandmother loved this country and encouraged all of their 6 sons to serve in the military to protect the land that they loved. I thought about my father, a Los Angeles County Sheriff who would have served in Vietnam had it not been for a Hernia, encouraging me to join the military and had it not been for Diabetes, I would have had that chance.

I am all for free speech and I know that it is part of being American but I cannot get the picture of America being “the Melting Pot” made up many colors and cultures. I love the diversity of Los Angeles which is one of the reasons I stay here. So many different cultures and lifestyles to experience and live with makes intolerance less existent. I think it is a good thing that my kids get to see different people and not look at them as “different” since in reality they are not.

It seems to me that only true “Americans” were given a little bit of land to call their own after the rest was taken from them. And now the first few immigrants call themselves the true “Americans.”

I understand that we need to have laws about immigration and all of that. That is not the point I am trying to make. This sign was like a “Strangers are not welcome” sign and frankly, that is not what this country is about.
Sorry about the rant friends but this one really bugged me.


Nicole P said...

George -

What a thoughtful post. And one that I agree with wholeheartedly. This country has always been about people who WANT to be Americans coming and making this a better place. There are unfortunately, a growing number among us who believe that they actually OWN this land - that America is something they alone (or as a group, moreso) define or make up. It's infuriating - and a little bit frightening.


Vivian said...

George, *sigh* how true. My heritage is Cherokee, Choctaw and Irish. My g-g grandmother was full blood native american married to a full blood Irishman. She had to deny her heritage in order to not be treated badly (although she was feisty enough to take on the best of them). My FIL and his family moved here from Holland and he served and became a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, he loved this country. I hate that such arrogance continues to be a threat to people. Sadly, ignorance will always exist.

Major Bedhead said...

Ugh. Y'see why I hate people sometimes? It's crap like that.

One side of my family has been here since before the American Revolution - I swear, they were on the next boat out after the Mayflower. The other half has been here since 1932. Is the old half better than the new half? Nope. Just got on board earlier, that's all.

I am ambililent about patriotic fervor. I am glad that I live in this country, but I'm not always proud of it. Attitudes like the one expressed in that sign leave me feeling ashamed and embarrassed and as though I have to justify myself, even though I don't hold those feelings and I hate being made to feel that way.

Wingman said...


It's me that has the Wii - god I love the thing - let me know what I need to do so my Miis can become citizens in your Wii parades as well - I run an open society!

lisajem said...

Hey hey,

you know something that gets to me, here in Africa, where I stick out like a sore thumb, I dont feel different. I am accepted just the way I am, they are more interested in what I have to say then what I look like. In fact (most of the time) being different is a wanted thing. Its so great to feel so different and yet know that you are so accepted.

gina said...

I just don't understand people and why they have so much hate. It really does make you feel ashamed to be an american sometimes.