No Interest in Assimilation; I Saw it First Hand
I recently attended my teen’s high school graduation. His graduating class is about half Hispanic. I could not find a seat in the grandstands, even arriving 45 minutes early, and finally found a small spot to stand against a short fence beyond the bleachers. This spot was approximately across from the side of the stage where the speakers were and where the diplomas would be handed out.
For some reason, I quickly realized that I was the only white person except for two people who were checking ID’s for admission to the field and graduation area. Everyone around me, on my left and right and behind me was Hispanic. I also noticed that nearly everyone was speaking only Spanish. The area I live in has a very high percentage of illegal aliens, but I didn’t expect so many at a graduation ceremony and I may have assumed a few more English-speaking Hispanics at this high school.
After all of the soon-to-be grads had taken their seats on the football field and the speakers had assembled on stage, an honor guard marched to the front of the stage and it was announced that the Pledge of Allegiance would be recited by all attendees. This was a moment I missed, after years out of school and I was excited to see everybody present joining in to recite the Pledge. I removed my cap and put my hand over my heart.
As it began, I quickly realized that I was the only one in my area actually speaking the words aloud. It was very obvious because I could only hear my voice. I looked to my right slowly and none of the people were even opening their mouths. I looked to my left and it was the same. I craned my head around to get a glimpse of those behind me and nobody was participating or even opening their mouths. They were all stone-faced. Nobody had their hand over their heart. Nobody saluted.
When the Pledge completed, the speaker announced that the National Anthem would be performed. Again, as many people in the stands sang along, I realized that again, I could only hear my own voice, nearly embarrassed to be heard in a sea of silence, since I am not a good singer. Looking around, there was nobody singing or even trying to mouth the words. No one was looking towards the flag. It was a startling experience.
When Assimilation and America Meant Something
I grew up in a community of immigrants. My friends parents or grandparents had come to the U.S. from Italy, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and many other European countries. All the families learned English and everybody knew the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. They were not only interested in assimilating into American culture but they were interested in being Americans and living the American experience. They did not need advertisements and government notices printed in all their native languages.
Yet, here I was, surrounded by people who did not know any of those things learned in civics lessons by people who come to the U.S. legally and then later become U.S. citizens. All of those important elements that bind Americans together for love of country and traditions and heritage are all missing in those who come across the U.S. border illegally. Here I was, watching firsthand, in real time, the complete disregard for two of America’s most important symbols of reverence. Not one of these people was even making an effort to mouth the words or show any interest or respect for these two important traditions.
It is likely that the graduating seniors from many of these families will go onto college with paid scholarships and grants. Many will get funds just for being “dreamers.” Most will live the American dream. How many will sing the National Anthem though? How many of the parents will celebrate the traditions of their native countries but disregards every Flag Day and only think of fireworks on the Fourth?
That graduation ceremony included some elements that took me back; I was appreciative of the Pledge and the Anthem. I had a lump in my throat as the new grads threw their caps into the air. Those traditions took me back, but just as quickly, I was reminded that this was 2023 as one of the speakers broke down while talking about all of the students in that class who had died; many violently. I was aware of all the downsides of illegal immigration but this experience really served to drive it home.
America can never be the same as long as this practice is promoted. The open border and the handouts in exchange for votes and Census power will be America’s downfall. It is happening already. For a few brief and startling moments, I was faced with this country’s reality.