We Are a Nation of Immigrants
Robert L. Wichterman
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Many members of Congress and innumerable writers of "Letters to the Editor" have expressed their views of our immigration rules, laws, and procedures. They all, it seems, know how to improve them, and how to make the system function proficiently.
In order to have any insight into these disagreements, we should learn how the immigration process operated in the early 20th Century. At that time there was a strong desire to come to the United States. (That drive is just as strong today.) These immigrants knew that if they were to remain in their native country, which may have been in Europe or Asia, their children would never be able to improve their social or economic status over that of their parents. In America though, children were not restricted from rising above their parents.
It has been reported that when some of the immigrants landed, they knelt down and kissed the ground. They made a pledge to uphold America's laws and to support it in both good and bad times. Learning to speak English was an important goal for them. Some, like Irving Berlin's parents, Americanized their names. They wanted their children to assimilate into the American culture. There were no welfare or labor laws to help or protect them at that time. Life was "hard," but their work ethic was equally strong.
Many of their children had to fight in The Great War (World War I), and their grandchildren in World War II. By then though, they saw themselves as Americans who were fighting their country's enemies. They were, in fact, defending it as One People. The melting pot was, in those days, red, white and blue.
Unfortunately, the culture has deteriorated drastically since then. Our Judeo-Christian society has become more secular, coarse, self-centered, and vulgar. The current immigrants are quite different, too. They demand many rights, benefits, and government largess to which they think they are entitled. Plus, many of them expect us to converse with them in their native language. Further, the voting ballots are now printed with, in addition to English, foreign languages. Those who crossed the oceans to start a new life here would be appalled to see many of today's immigrants waving the flag of their native land. Thankfully though, there are plenty of these new residents attending classes for English as a Second Language, which are sponsored by local churches and other organizations. They will be assimilated just as those earlier immigrants were.
Whether President Obama agrees with this statement or not, America is exceptional. At the end of both World Wars I and II, we as the conqueror, never seized any of the land that we had fought for, and which was ours for the taking. As proof of that statement, Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea are all free and independent due to our military efforts. More importantly, none of those sons of immigrants even considered waving the flag of their parent's native land. They were Americans.
My concern is that as our country travels down the avaricious and immoral path on which it has embarked, will there be enough American men and women who will enlist in our military services, are willing to go into harm's way, and possibly die for our nation? Do we have a sufficient sense of national pride in being Americans - not hyphenated Americans, but simply Americans - to defend our way of life? And will we implant a perception of national identity in our school children and new immigrants so that we are truly E pluribus unum -"Out of many, one?" Only time will answer those queries. *