Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, America!


This weekend the United States of America turns 233 years old.  On this occasion my thoughts turn to the ideal of the American Dream.  To me, the definition of the American Dream is the idyllic image of a house with a white picket fence with a dog and raising 2.5 kids, and having the opportunity to be a success at anything you aspire to.  There are many people that embody the spirit of the American Dream.  These people come to mind.

Cesar Millan, otherwise known as The Nation Geographic Channel’s The Dog Whisperer, a Mexican immigrant who entered the United States as an illegal like many others with nothing.  He found a passion, stuck with it, and grew his success to a point where he’s been a guest on Oprah, got his own TV show, has written many books, and now has his own signature line of dog supplies sold at what is probably the country’s biggest chain of pet stores, Petco. 

The man that does yard work at my mom’s house, Martin.  He is and will probably always be an illegal alien Mexican immigrant.  Like many tens of thousands like him, he’ll stand on a corner at the crack of dawn waiting for someone to choose him as a day laborer.  He hustles his butt off, doing any odd job that pays.  He has to stash away a large reserve of cash because at any given moment he could be caught by immigration and be deported to Mexico.  He has to pay thousands of dollars to the “coyotes” that smuggle him back to the States.  Despite these obstacles he’s a co-owner of the house he lives in, is raising a family, and is undoubtedly making a better life for his children.

My late cousin, Tony.  Tony was originally from Bolivia and was married to my cousin Yolanda.  Tony returned to Bolivia to bring back his daughter Isabel.  When she first got here as a little girl Isabel didn’t speak a word of English.  Now, she’s grown woman, serves in the Navy, there’s not a trace of a Spanish accent when she speaks.  Even years after his passing, Tony’s memory still represents the fulfillment of the American Dream.

Our governor, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, is himself an immigrant.  Where else but in America can someone migrate here speaking barely comprehensible English, become a movie star, marry into a family that is almost American royalty, and be elected to the highest office in the most populous state in the union?

Our nation’s president, Barack Obama, is only one generation removed from a man that grew up in a small village in the African nation of Kenya.  Imagine a man with that background having a son that would one day become the most powerful man in the free world.  Where else on the entire planet could a dream like this be achieved?  In the words of everyone’s favorite boxing promoter, Don King, “Only in America”.

I also think of the blue-coated militia that constituted America’s first army.  They fought and died to protect America’s independence against the British Empire, the centuries long most powerful empire on Earth at the time.

Most Americans can recite the opening words to Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Those words speak of a promise, and it is thanks to people like the ones I have mentioned above that prove that America’s promise can and will be fulfilled.

God bless America.  And happy birthday, too!


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