This column was first published on June 22, 2006
In case you missed it, or chose to ignore it, June 14 was Flag Day. Don't feel too badly because it’s one of those official events that few Americans know or care about and even fewer observe.
It's so insignificant that it’s scarcely more than a reference on calendars. There are no parades, no major events to commemorate it, no three-day weekend — and alternate-side-of-the street parking is in effect.
A few years ago I was annoyed when I went to one Brooklyn public school and saw the quasi-holiday transformed into an occasion to celebrate students’ multicultural backgrounds. This particular event should not be observed to accommodate some distorted principle!
It was Flag Day, an event honoring the flag, not flags of South and Central American countries or European, African and Asian nations. , as in U.S., as in English is NOT a second language here. Nor should we have to press one to hear it spoken!
I'm neither a flag-waving patriot nor an extreme leftist, but I’m getting sick and tired of watching some traditions undermined in the name of equality.
The following rant may tarnish my liberal credentials, nonetheless, the aforementioned episode, seems to be another instance of political correctness gone amok!
Well, enough is enough!
I always presumed equality simply meant treating everyone fairly and with the same respect and reverence you expect to receive. You know, the Golden Rule! But, with a growing number of huddled masses within our borders — legally and illegally — the policy of fairness seems to be eroding and skewed to favor non-English speaking people to make them feel more welcome, while second, third and fourth generations of natural born citizens are relegated to mediocrity.
Some immigrants, regardless of how long they've been here, speak with a conspicuous accent and occasionally require patience to comprehend them. I'm not adopting a "love-it-or-leave-it" approach, just sound reasoning. Our native language is ENGLISH — so learn it and speak it! There are numerous opportunities to take classes that teach it — for FREE.
When I traveled through Europe more than two decades ago the only places where English was spoken and understood fluently were in hotels and restaurants that catered to American tourists. When I passed through Germany for a few weeks, I was accompanied by a friend who was born in the U.S., but spoke fluent German because her mother was a native. Therefore, she served as my translator because few people in rural stores and shops spoke English. Without her I would have been lost. As a matter of fact, one day when I visited a few local landmarks in Hamburg on my own, I’d gone astray. It took almost an hour before I found someone who spoke adequate English to guide me back to my hotel.
It’s time for elected officials, regardless of party affiliation and cultural background, to stand up and refuse to kowtow and placate every immigrant group claiming it’s in the name of democracy, when it’s just for the sake of votes. These people are welcome here to live freely, to work hard to earn American dollars, but I find it unwarranted when some of them refuse to assimilate into the society like my grandparents and previous generations of immigrants did for more than a hundred years. The only time my grandparents' generation didn’t speak English was when they didn't want their grandchildren to understand what they were discussing.
Flag Day is — for those so inclined — to celebrate and show respect for our flag, its designers and makers. The flag represents our independence and our unity as a nation. The Stars and Stripes have a proud and glorious history. Many have died protecting it. America’s flag has stood proudly on the surface of the moon since Neil Armstrong took that one giant leap for mankind 37 years ago.
Flag Day was inspired by three decades of state and local celebrations, which began in New York City and quickly spread to Chicago and Philadelphia in the nineteenth century. The day marks the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 by the Continental Congress. President Woodrow Wilson officially established it on May 30, 1916. Though celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until President Truman signed an Act of Congress that June 14 was designated as National Flag Day in 1949.
As Americans, we have every right to be proud of our culture, our nation, and our flag. Immigrants have the right to — and should — celebrate their heritages, flags and culture. But for crissakes, that doesn't mean changing an American celebration into a farce by making it some multicultural festival that has nothing whatsoever to do with the holiday.
What’s next, converting July Fourth into Independence Day?
People, people, people, remember and honor your heritage with pride, but, in the name of equality , don’t allow that respect to reduce American holidays to triviality and national symbols to irrelevance.