06 July 2010

American mix makes us richer: Always has.

Today, about 35,000 non-citizens serve in the military and about 8,000 enlist every year. Army.mil Did you know that?

I was amazed to learn that Cajun people are descendants of French speaking refugees from Acadia in Nova Scotia. Many Americans are of refugee descent, whether their ancestors were chased from their homelands by war, religious persecution, economic hardship or some other catalyst.

Wikipedia tells us:

Between 1850 and 1930, about 5 million Germans emigrated to the United States with a peak in the years between 1881 and 1885, when a million Germans left Germany and settled mostly in the Midwest. Between 1820 and 1930, 3.5 million British and 4.5 million Irish entered America. Before the 1840s most Irish immigrants were Irish or Scots-Irish Presbyterians. After 1840, Catholics arrived in large numbers, in part because of the famines of the 1840s. Mortality rates of 30% aboard the coffin ships were common.

Irish and German Catholic immigration was opposed in the 1850s by the Nativist/Know Nothing movement, originating in New York in 1843 as the American Republican Party. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to American values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Active mainly from 1854–56, it strived to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery, most often joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election.

European immigrants joined the Union Army in large numbers, including 177,000 born in Germany and 144,000 born in Ireland. Many Germans could see the parallel between slavery and serfdom in the old fatherland.

Many of these patterns repeat themselves through history. One way immigrants feel they can repay their host country is by serving in the military, earning their stripes and proving their loyalty.

So when we think of patriotism, we must consider the perspective people gain when they come from a place of unrest or where they are threatened, to a place where there is opportunity and the peace and to pursue a better life. Patriotism will not always include Apple pie and baseball. Some of our most fervent patriots throughout history might have spoken Italian or English but with an Irish accent.

Look at Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. Some suggest that the reason Google has reacted so strongly against China's censorship and heavy handedness is because of his family's struggles with oppression in Russia.

Down through the decades apprehension has arisen that there were too many of these types or too many of those. It seems the Muslims and Mexicans are shown the least hospitality these days. My family has German, French, Scottish and Indian roots. All of those people groups have been oppressed, alienated or maligned in some way.

When you've had your freedom threatened or taken away,
you'll take a stand for the freedom of others.

Let's not take our for granted, nor bar others from contributing.

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