On May 5, 2010, in California, four high school students were disciplined by their assistant principal. What did they do wrong? They wore American flag apparel on Cinco de Mayo. Some other students were offended and complained, and the young men were told to change their shirts so that racial tensions wouln’t turn violent, the administrator said.
In interviews with reporters about the incident, at least two students at the school said that they were offended by the shirts because they felt it disrespected their Mexican heritage. They said Cinco de Mayo was “their” holiday, and that they wouldn’t wear Mexican flags on the Fourth of July.
Clearly, their language suggests that these students identify themselves as Mexicans first, and as Americans second, if at all. That is wrong. Societies have a right to expect loyalty from those living within their nation’s borders.
Therefore, I’m calling on all of us to display the American flag this year on Cinco de Mayo: Thursday, May 5, 2011.
There may be those who find this invitation anti-Hispanic. Nothing could be further from the truth. If young Irish Americans had declared our flag to be offensive on St. Patrick’s Day, I’d be calling on us to fly it on March 17.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating cultural heritage; the problem occurs when anyone publicly values their ancestral heritage more than their present home. I’m not saying that Cinco de Mayo is bad; far from it. I just want people to understand that their most important cultural identity is as Americans. People can celebrate Cinco de Mayo without saying it’s more important to them than America. I hope that Americans of all ethnicities, inclduing Hispanics, accept this invitation to strengthen our patriotism.
The point of this exercise is not to create divisions, but to bring us all closer together in our brotherhood as Americans. Though many of us may have roots in different countries speaking different languages, we need to join in celebrating that common bond that unites us–our shared blessing to live in the United States of America. Recognizing the greatness of our country and our need to be loyal to it is appropriate on Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July, and any other day of the year.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” –Abraham Lincoln
If you’ll support this effort to increase patriotism and unity, please join the Facebook group here.