I write this post with a heavy heart. I lost my mother to Cancer when I was 12 years old and one of my best memories is her love for this holiday and what it meant for her personal journey. On the other end, I really am struggling with reading about the children who are being separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Not having access to your parents is one of the most painful experiences a person can bear in their lifetime. I can only imagine the journey of a family that decided to search for better economic opportunities, and on that mission to pursue a better life, they run into border patrol and experience family separation. This is absolutely horrifying. It is a nightmare. It hurts so much that I have intentionally hid from these stories, because I can't handle the details.
When I look back at the holidays from my childhood, I think of how much my mother loved 4th of July. She barely slept the night before because you would catch her in the kitchen preparing all of the dishes and snacks that she was going to put in her large red cooler. You could feel her bustling energy in the room and the excitement that she had for the day. Once our van was packed with all of the special goodies for the day, we would pack up in her green van and head to the metro station to ride into the heart of Washington DC. She would lead us to a piece of the sidewalk that would allow us good visibility for the parade. During the parade, she stood there with a big smile, enjoying the different bands and organizations filing through the street. After the parade, we would head to an open grassy area, to eat our lunch under the shade of a tree.
After we had our hispanic flavored lunch: coconut rice, beans, plantains, and chicken, we were overjoyed with just spending time together, amidst the bustling holiday energy, and happy for my mother who was living her version of the American dream.
The part of the day that she loved the most were the evening fireworks. After lunch, we would pack all of our things and we would head to a grassy patch area in front of the monument. When it became dark, within minutes, you knew that the fireworks would begin. There is not one memory that singles out the most like this moment, where her joy and smile was child-like. After every fire work, her eyes widened and she would comically and cheerfully respond with an "oooooo" or "aaaahhh" after each firework. My siblings and I would laugh at her and also join in the fun because she was too funny, absolutely lost in the magical fireworks experience.
At the time, I didn't understand why she loved this holiday so much. What did it mean to a woman who immigrated to the United States in her 20's and had limitations fully communicating in the English language.
My thoughts now lead me to believe that she looked at those fireworks with wonder, with possibility, with gratitude for living her best life in the land of opportunity. She grew up in Panama, where moving to the United States represented success and a better future for herself and her children.
Recently, the news of migrant children being separated from their families, and being held in detention centers has filled me with sadness, outrage, and absolute disappointment for the America that I call home. I pray for those children that they can be reunited with their family members and they can survive from this horrific trauma that they are experiencing.
It's hard to be patriotic when I feel that the policies that are being exercised are not reflective of what you believe promote goodness, love, and ultimately contribute to a lifetime of horrific emotional pain.
I am speechless, but I will try my best to represent the values that I believe an American should embody and reflect. It's not fair for me to take on the poor judgement of others as my own. This is my America too, and I will serve kindness, love, and empowerment for those that need it. I am a proud citizen of this nation, and I will not allow others to make me feel like I am not a part of this country, like I don't belong, and like I am not as deserving of what this country has to offer. This is my America too.
Thank you for stopping by to read this blog post. I wish you a Happy fourth of July!