The “American” has not existed for very much time, considering the fact that the Earth is billions of years old and humans have been around for thousands and thousands of years. Being an “American” became a “thing” only several hundred years ago! But look how far she’s come! America is known for her freedom, its generosity, her strength, and her innovation. America is an awesome place where so many are privileged to call “home.”
I am an American. I’m a very proud American! I am probably not your typical American. I wasn’t even born here! I can’t help that! My parents lived in Brazil when I joined the world of the living! Luckily for me, I was transported from a future in a third-world country to America! My parents and I are first-generation immigrants! Pretty cool, I think! We are the first from both my father’s and my mother’s families to put roots down in the United States!
We arrived here in the early 1970s. Vietnam still lingered in the air. Nixon had just made his quick exit. Bell-bottoms, 8-track tapes, and the colors brown, yellow, and orange were “the new black” before black was “the new black.” If you listened to 8-tracks of Diana Ross, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, or Pink Floyd, while wearing brown, yellow, or orange bell-bottoms, you were quite the authentic American, indeed! The struggle was real!
My parents moved us here because my father received the opportunity to further his education and career at a Texas university. It was also a chance to continue their mission work. They always had a heart for ministry and helping others. We were here for several years on student visas. Once he was no longer a student, we received temporary residency status. As soon as we were eligible, we became permanent residents, and then U.S. citizens. Growing up, I never heard my parents speak poorly of the United States or any politicians. They felt very blessed to be here and had a great deal of loyalty and gratitude for this country. I recall watching the evening news with my dad, in the early 1980s. Every time President Reagan would speak, my dad would say, “Everyone! Quiet! My President is speaking!”
He was so proud to now be part of a nation where everyone was free and had the opportunity to pursue one’s dreams. He was relieved that his Brazilian-born daughter and American-born son would have chances he and my mother could never have dreamed of having. I share this with you so that you understand my particular brand of patriotism and pride for America.
(Daddy and me – 1974. Living in family housing at East Texas Baptist University.)
Perhaps his glasses were a bit too rosy. Or, maybe he had faith that, although it wouldn’t always be easy, we were finally somewhere that offered us a chance at making something better than what we had.
I have been fortunate to travel around the world with my parents, on mission trips and for family vacations. I have seen starving children. I have seen families living in one step above a cardboard box! I have also seen beautiful monuments in gorgeous places in Europe. But even Europe is limited in its educational and social mobility options!
(post card image of Brazil)
(reality of Brazil)
If you’re feeling a bit down about the “American Way,” just book a trip to Indonesia, Honduras, Morocco, or even France! You will find beauty everywhere. You will find kindness and humanity in all of those places. But only when you visit other places will you understand why so many people clap when their plane lands on U.S. soil. Only then will you appreciate the society, laws, and government – flaws and all – that we have here in America over the ways of life in most other countries. Only then will you confidently (unless you live in Michigan) drink water from the faucet!
I am thankful to my parents for being pioneers in this great nation for our family!
(1974, Marshall, Texas – My dad was getting his first of 2 Master’s degrees, and later went on to receive 2 doctoral degrees.)
Through them, many of our family members and close friends have come to the United States, become citizens, and contributed to the American way! We are especially honored to have family members serving in the American military! I’ve stated before and I’ll state it again. Although I was born in Brazil, I would never die for it! If America ever needed me to sacrifice for her, I would gladly do what needed to be done. I owe it to her! And yes, she’s totally worth it!