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.