This past 4th of July will remain in my memory as a very special one. Besides almost killing my dogs with an overdose of Benadryl–to keep them calm during the three days of fireworks–we enjoyed great company and food with new and old friends, and I saw a wave of nationalism in the hearts of the neighbors that I hadn’t seen in years.
In our community, houses, golf carts, and even dogs displayed different forms of red, white and blue. I even saw a guy wearing an American flag leotard from head to toe under the blazing sun and 100% humidity!
Almost everybody who attended that night’s celebration at our golf club had a patriotic item or image in their clothing. Even, I, managed to recreate the flag with red and white striped shorts and navy blue tank with shiny metal appliques.
For people outside the US, the 4th of July is just the date of one of Will Smith’s movies about an invasion of ugly aliens with tentacles in their heads. But for proud Americans, the 4th of July represents the opportunity to honor The Stars and Stripes and remember the heritage of this nation with BBQ, pie, and fireworks.
As an immigrant to the United States, I have learned that the American flag is more than just a symbol of sovereignty over its territory. It is a symbol of generosity and inclusion to people like me, who had to leave their countries in search of a better way of life, and who are willing to honor it with respect.
The latest controversies around immigration and the heated debate between political candidates and their doctrines, are keeping the passions high throughout this Election 2016 cycle. Recently, after reading and watching all kinds of commentary, I remembered a first-hand anecdote from my last year’s trip to Colombia with my husband and my son.
When we visited Cartagena de Indias–a hot touristic spot on the Atlantic Coast of my home country-we stayed at the Baru Decameron Resort, where the guest base originates mostly from South America.
One of the nights we were walking from the restaurant to our room and suddenly I saw something that disturbed me greatly. On one of the balconies of the second floor, a foreign flag was displayed for everybody to see. I won’t say what country the flag was from, all I can say is that I felt insulted and I am absolutely sure that If it had been on the first floor, I would have taken it down.
Don’t get me wrong, during the entire trip I saw people wearing bags or soccer jerseys of their national teams, and I didn’t feel that way. It was that foreign flag and its “colonialism” drift what offended and triggered my Colombian pride.
Never before this incident did I put myself in the shoes of Americans who have to deal, everyday, with immigrants from all over the world who display their flags–throughout the entire year–with little to no respect for the one that belongs rightful to this nation. One would question then, if you think your country is so much better, why haven’t you moved back?
Often times there are news reports about “offended” citizens that sue their local government agencies because they consider the American flag a transgression of their liberties when it is displayed in public venues or buildings. Respect is a two way street.
My heart will always be Colombian and I display my identity in my undeniable accent, my cooking, or by wearing my soccer jersey or a bracelet. The United States may have not have given me birth, but they gave me the two most important people in my life: my husband and my son. For that and more, I let the American flag fly in front of my home not only as an act of respect but as one of profound gratitude.
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This column was sponsored by La’Rae Hendrix, Rodan+Fields Independent Consultant. Redefining the future of skincare. (904) 770-5278