By, Jewels Muller
I used to cry when the cultural groups would come to the Elementary School where I was a teacher. The Native Americans would put on an assembly to teach us about their culture. A group from Africa would come and dance and play drums. Another one from Mexico would come around Cinco De Mayo in their beautiful cultural dress and would sing and dance in celebration. These assemblies were so wonderful that I would be moved to tears and find myself asking the question, “What is my culture?” “What do I celebrate?” “What are my songs and what are my dances?” I am an American but where do I come from and how do I celebrate? What does it mean to me to be an American? I am part of the American culture.
From a very early age I was taught to respect the American Flag. We honored her. We saluted her. We would not let her touch the ground. We raised her and lowered her at summer camp. We were taught to fold her into a tight triangle. She was placed on the caskets of fallen soldiers and then handed to the widow or widower during the funeral. She was made for us. She was made for Americans. She is the representation of many men and women who fought for our freedom. Died for our freedom. She is beautiful. She is part of my culture as an American. She is part of me. She is my song and dance.
I can remember seeing an angry group from another country burn our precious beautiful flag in a movie I was watching. My heart sank, but I could understand that perhaps they were angry with us and that was how they were lashing out. What I can’t understand for one moment is an American disrespecting our beautiful flag. Although, I can come to understanding when I acknowledge that it is a young person that may not know better who is acting out to get attention. When I find out it is adults who are teaching our youth and who are part of my American culture, it leaves me dumbfounded. It hurts my heart. Why don’t they leave if they disrespect our country and our people who fought for our freedom? The thing that really gets me is this… This is how amazing our country is… You have the right to do it! You have the right to blatantly disrespect our American flag because we LIVE in this great country of America which allows you that right. You have the right to sit when others stand and salute her. It really hurts my heart but it is your right. That is why our America is so beautiful.
Again, I don’t know the answers to all of this but I have the American right of free speech and I wanted to voice my opinion about my culture and my beautiful American flag. It doesn’t matter what color I am or what sex I am. I am an American citizen. I am part of this beautiful “Melting Pot” of a culture which is what we used to call it. We used to embrace the diversity and we were proud to be part of this melting pot. What happened to that? I could learn the dances of other cultures and be exposed to other languages and foods and stories and we were all one among many different people. I LOVE the different people who make up America. I love the individuals who bring their stories, their cultures, their beliefs, their individuality. I am proud of America. I am proud of our American Flag. I will work alongside anyone who is interested in making her even better but to tear her down in the process is not the solution. The question is, “What can I do to serve the American people (be it one or many) and make this country even better?”