What a country! Independence Day 2010! As dissent and malaise fill the headlines, and bitter diatribe and blame mongering flood the airwaves, the question we should each ask ourselves is, “Where would we rather be?”

Would I have a happier life if I took my family and moved to Taiwan? Or Brazil? Or France? I look at the Irish-Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and sing good old Irish songs. But how many O’Malleys and Kellys and Kennedys would repatriate if they could? Wait a minute, they can! But they don’t.

African Americans whose ancestors were slaves and are still trying to better their lot, don’t dream of returning to Liberia or Somalia or South Africa.

The descendants of Chinese railroad coolies and Japanese internment camp prisoners may honor the old country, but go back? Not on your life!

What about all the Mexican Americans who celebrate Cinco de Mayo and wave the Mexican flag? Do you think for one minute they would switch places with their relatives back in Mazatlan, Michoacán or Ciudad Juarez?


The answer is No. Neither I, nor the vast majority of Americans who can trace their roots back to far-away places, would give up our precious U.S. citizenship. Our country is officially 235 years young. In world history we are relative newcomers and the melting pot is still stewing.

As we absorb more Vietnamese, Cubans, Koreans, Ukrainians, Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Chinese, Africans, Irish, Europeans, Kiwis and Mexicans into the Native American base, the flavor of the soup changes. Sometimes it boils over but eventually we become homogenized.

I cannot think of a country that offers more opportunity for individuals to succeed. Just ask any green card Guatemalan strawberry picker, New Delhi medical doctor, Chinese math student, Australian singer or Peruvian sheepherder who is among us. Even during the recession they are pouring across our borders because of what we have to offer … hope.

America stands for freedom. A word that never sounds trite to immigrants. They know its true meaning, the chance to be the best you can be. And to those who have always known freedom, immigrants remind us not to take it for granted. They know America does not guarantee happiness or success. It offers an even greater gift; the freedom to pursue it.

Am I proud to be an American? You better believe it! After all, where else could a cowboy poet make a living telling frivolous stories and writing a silly column for 30 years? That’s right friends, this column began July 4, 1980. Only in America. God bless us all. PD