Monday, May 01, 2006

I am an American

In the last century, an immigrant group came to the United States seeking a better life. They took jobs in agriculture, gardening, and house cleaning. They ran fruit stands and opened grocery stores. In spite of virulent racism, they decided that their children would be born in America and would become Americans in every sense of the word. They insisted that only English would be spoken outside the home. When their sons were turned away from joining the local Boy Scout troop, they formed new troops. Some of the children were educated in the "old country," but most grew up in American public schools, where their parents insisted that they earn grades at the top of their class.

When war was declared on the country of their ancestors, they proudly declared on large signs, "I AM AN AMERICAN." When their country removed them en masse from their homes and interned them in concentration camps in the name of "military necessity," then ironically asked them to enlist in the Armed Forces to defend liberty, they volunteered in droves and served and died for their country. The parents joined their natural-born American children as naturalized American citizens as soon as federal law permitted it.

Not only did they understand the meaning of E Pluribus Unum, they lived it. Today, the racism faced by their first and second generations is memorialized in a park in Washington, D.C. Today, they are everyday Americans, sharing their culture with their fellow Americans, living the American dream.

On this Loyalty Day 2006, I salute the Japanese American immigrants of my grandparents' generation, and their children (like my parents), and fly the American flag in their honor.
Loyalty Day is also a time for us to reflect on our responsibilities to our country as we work to show the world the meaning and promise of liberty. The right to vote is one of our most cherished rights and voting is one of our most fundamental duties. By making a commitment to be good citizens, flying the American flag, or taking the time to learn about our Nation's history, we show our gratitude for the blessings of freedom. —President George W. Bush, 2006

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