Sunday, July 5, 2015
Remember, The 4th of July is Independence Day
The 4th of July is a three day holiday, John Philip Sousa, fireworks, BBQ’s, and sales. We wear American flags, and salute the soldiers and veterans who served. Yet, we often don’t fully appreciate the 4th of July. The 4th of July is Independence Day. The Day when our Founding Fathers entered onto a revolutionary mission – a country of free and independent people, of individuals. A nation where the government answers to the people, and not the people to the government or to crowned heads. Indeed, our Constitution bars titles of nobility. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights freed the human spirit. The 13 original states became a beacon to the people of the world. America became, and remains, the beacon of freedom to the world, a chance to start anew. The freedom of the person. You can make it in America. The streets may not have been paved with gold, but the opportunity was there. It still is. Wave after wave of immigrants have formed this country. America is unique as a country, with the possible exception of Canada, our Northern neighbor. We have no common DNA, religion, ethnicity, or skin color. We are all Americans. we speak all languages, but English is the common denominator. Our names may end with a vowel or syllable, but we are Americans. The Irish followed the English and Scots. Then they all came. The Italians, Jews, Greeks, Portuguese, French Canadians, Scandinavians, Northern Europeans, Southern Europeans, Eastern Europeans. Blacks first came as slaves. They continue to come to America, from the Caribbean, from the Sudan. Asians have come. First the Chinese, and then the Japanese. More recently the Vietnamese. Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon. Pacific Islanders. The Subcontinent. They all come to America. They have all made it in America. They come by boat, by train, by land. They came, and they come. They assimilate into America as America grows with them. We may be hyphenated Americans, but we are Americans first. They come. They work as maids and day laborers, struggling as previous generations of immigrants so that their children will succeed and climb the ladder of upward mobility. Greece may be bankrupt, but Greek Americans prosper in America, Armenians were the victims of The Armenian Genocide a century ago, but 200,000 Armenian Americans are thriving in Los Angeles. Vietnamese boat people fled the Fall of Saigon, but are now an integral part of the Southern California professional class. The fall of the Shah sent Persians into exile. Half a million Persians, Muslim, Jewish and other religions but all Persians, have made it in Southern California. They are all now Americans. I say Southern California because the Southern California of today is as much a magnet for immigrants and a melting pot as New York, which continues to be a gateway for immigrants. Of course, California has always been a miniature United States, starting with the 49ers seeking gold in the Golden State. They have never stopped coming from Africa, Asia, the Mideast, Europe, and Latin America. They come for freedom. They come for opportunity. America welcomes the refugees fleeing oppression. The history of immigration, beginning with the Irish, is also one of discrimination, but the immigrants have overcome. America has an African American President, Indian American and Hispanic American Governors, African American and Hispanic American Senators, and Chinese mayors. America is for the individual who dreams and aspires, who works to achieve it. Maybe a small shop or bodega, maybe a mechanic, perhaps a Marine, sometimes Hollywood or Silicon Valley, always striving for a better life. But always freedom and independence.