On Wednesday we celebrated the 4th of July, the 242nd year since our American Independence. We live in a special place and time of freedom. We must appreciate and continually work to preserve our freedom.
In 1996, I had the pleasure of being a chaperon, accompanying my son Sam, on a trip to Washington DC for recently graduated 8th graders. My duty was to motivate and keep track of six active, independent 14-year-old boys. The trip was a fantastic, exhausting, whirlwind of our American history. Starting in Jamestown, seeing Jefferson’s Monticello, a day at Williamsburg, a tour of Gettysburg, spending time at Harper’s Ferry, walking through Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s, and Washington’s Monument, time at the WWII War, Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials, seeing the Declaration of Independence and viewing the Smithsonian museums with particular time in the Holocaust museum, we all absorbed our American heritage.
After a morning at The Ford Theater, where John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln, we were given free time. The boys wanted to be outside and be active. Across the street was the FBI Building. We ended up playing Frisbee in front of the FBI entrance. One aberrant throw went into the secured moat- like area. Upon inquiry, the Frisbee was happily returned to us. I asked the boys what other country in the world would allow you to play on the steps of a nation’s top law enforcement agency? That is the freedom that we enjoy and are privileged to have. Though I wonder if that is still allowed since 9/11? I think that the answer is probably not.
About 10 years ago, I received an e-mail with the following article written by an Australian dentist. [The dentist name was not included.] The article was prompted by an offer of a reward in a Pakistani newspaper to anyone who killed an American, any American. The Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to help identify an American. That article follows:
What is an American?
“An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.
An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as Native Americans.
An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.
An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.
An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.
An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.
When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!
As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan. Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.
The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.
Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001, earning a better life for their families. It’s been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.
So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung and other bloodthirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.”
I thank the Australian dentist for his support for the American ideal. I am lucky to be born an American. I believe in our ideal of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is sad that our efforts are seen to be so evil by such a radically different value system. And it is equally sad that many in our country including our leader have reacted with fear and hate to deny the human spirit for freedom for so many wishing to be free.
George Malkemus has had a family and cosmetic dental practice in Rohnert Park for more than 27 years. He can be reached at 585-8595 or e-mail info@ malkemusdds.com. Visit www.malkemusdds.com for more information.