It is an extremely grim day in the history of our beloved nation that we have to pause and remind our president, the President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, what it is to be American.
Ultimately, at the core of what has always made America great, is the American Spirit. The American Spirit is the foundation and the essence that led us from a floundering small rebellious colony to a world super power.
The American “can do” spirit.
Resourcefulness. Resilience. Industriousness. Discipline. Patience. Perseverance. Grit. Steadfast loyalty to our democratic principals. Sacrifice. Generosity. Honesty. Respect for humanity. Fairness. Justice. Teamwork. Support. Quest for knowledge. Mentoring. Opportunity. Wisdom. Hope.
These are the traits honed into our national character by persevering through sustained hardships and challenges. They are the rewards received by overcoming obstacles the right way, by not caving to our lower demons, but with great dignity rising to our higher angels. They are the traits of immigrants, driven by hope, determined to succeed at the opportunity to make it in America the Beautiful.
Not only are these the traits of the American Spirit they are in fact the traits of the immigration experience.
It is the immigrant experience that every single one of us has threaded into our DNA, passed along from generation to generation. While growing up, I was endowed with the many harrowing stories about my great, great, great (maybe another great) grand father and how he had nothing when he arrived from Ireland. There was a bounty on his head for being a rebel leader. He was being chased by the British. His face was on a “Wanted Dead or Alive” poster. It was 1799. “Get on a ship and flee to the new world before you’re killed. Send money for your wife and children to follow.”
Look at our military combat soldiers. These front lines troops defending our cherished freedoms have never been millionaire or billionaire children. They are typically the most financially challenged in our country. Yet they are out there front and center infused with the strongest, most powerful version of the American Spirit, saving our nation over and over and over again. Tirelessly protecting our freedoms. More than a million have died defending our country and freedom. We owe them so much. Most importantly our respect.
One of my favorite examples of the American Spirit is the story of the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. When France gave America Lady Liberty in 1885, there was no pedestal just a statue. The pedestal was to be paid for by fundraising in America, rather than by taxes, but it wasn’t going very well. There was no big donor. No Vanderbilt or Rockefeller, Astor or any of the wealthiest families in America would fund the Statue of Liberty’s base. So Joseph Pulitzer, owner of the St Louis Post Dispatch, ran a story asking all Americans to send in their small change. Citizens from coast to coast promptly responded, overwhelming the Post with a tidal wave of coins. The Statue of Liberty and it’s pedestal is the 24/7 tribute to the American Spirit.
Sadly. Actually… tragically. The self-evident reality is, that the ultimate root of the problem today, this extremely difficult year with Trump as our president, is that Donald J. Trump does not have any of these golden traits. Donald Trump does not possess the American Spirit. He marches to a drum in extreme conflict with the American Spirit. An enemy of the American Spirit. An enemy that’s so foreign to us, it’s hard to imagine how we can take one more step forward with Trump as our leader.
Donald J. Trump wants to Make America Great Again?
The only way that’s possible is to return to our immigration roots. To align our modern policies with the cornerstone of our national character, the immigration spirit, the American Spirit.
If our immigration policies need to be updated, it begins with the understanding that immigration is vital to sustaining our national character and the American Spirit. The immigration experience has never been about the privileged, it’s always been about the impoverished, the tired, poor, huddled masses coming to America and making their dreams come true.
If we stay true to this mission, the immigration experience fine-tuned for modern application, our noble American Spirit will continue to flow like a flourishing fountain sustaining the heartbeat of our national character…a character that creates the bright beacon of hope and resilience to guide a world that has turned so brutal and dark.
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