Not a Norwegian-American; not an English-American; not a German-American - - - although I *do* descend from immigrants from all of those countries. All of whom came to these shores with a dream of a better life, and a determination to work hard to make their dreams come true.
But, because all those diverse peoples came here with the same goal, they set aside the past, and became ONE NATION, even as the original 13 colonies, despite their differences in culture and economics and belief systems, worked to come together as UNITED STATES.
You can make a beautiful building with stones of all sizes, shapes, and colors as long as they are all united with the same mortar. But, when the stones begin taking honor unto themselves, and working themselves lose from the wall in an attempt to prove that they are better than the rest of the wall because they are green or blue or have yellow specks in them, the wall will quickly crumble. We can, and should, honor our heritage; we should always remember the wonderful blessings we or our forefathers came here to realize. But, now we are here, it is time to put the past aside and be AMERICANS. Because we cannot effectively be loyal to more than one country/cause/conscience at a time. As Pres. Lincoln so eloquently put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
At the risk of letting on to how old I am, I must confess to having sat with my grandfather's arm around my shoulder watching TV when I first heard Red Skelton give this moving presentation:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
"I - Me; an individual; a committee of one.
"Pledge - Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
"Allegiance - My love and my devotion.
"To the Flag - Our standard; Old Glory; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.
"United - That means that we have all come together.
"States - Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.
"And to the Republic - Republic--a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern.
"For which it stands- And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
"One Nation Under God - One Nation--meaning, so blessed by God.
"Indivisible - Incapable of being divided.
"With Liberty - Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
"And Justice - The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others.
"For All - For All--which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.
"Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?" - Red Skelton
I remember the sense of peace and security I always felt near my grandfather; I remember the feeling of joy and pride in my country, the greatest nation on earth, as I heard Red recite and explain those stirring words.
I can't help but wonder if our current national climate of appeasement will leave anything for my grandson to find pride in. . . .