This year marks my 83rd July 4th since I arrived in August of 1930 and thus missed July 4th of that year. July 4th always had meaning during my early years of life since I was a fanatic baseball fan and so loved having a double header(for the price of one game) played by all major league baseball teams. I could listen on my radio to the exploits of the New York Yankees in an era when they won world series after world series. Baseball players were giants in my life, they represented the end result of my dreams. Of course, my initial eleven July 4th came at a time when we had poverty, but no war. Then came World War II and July 4th was a day when we honored those who fought against Nazism and the Japanese. At least we knew very clearly who were the good and who were the bad guys in our lives. On July 4th we stood as a nation united, we felt as one in the struggle against evil. There was no ambiguity, the Nazis and “Japs” were the enemies.
As the child of immigrants, in those days no one differentiated between “illegal” and “legal” immigrants, we were simply immigrants blessed to be in a land where we all worked to defeat evil doers. I always felt a certain moment of patriotism standing at Yankee Stadium as the sang our nation’s song. Years later when I served in the armed forces, July 4th made me feel part of America. I was not the son of “foreigners,” I was an American. We understood that if one lived and worked in America it was simply a matter of time before they began to think and behave as an American. Who cared from whence you came, who cared if you were a recent arrival, the only important thing was–did you want to become an American!
I once wrote a history of America. I felt proud in so doing. It enabled me to bring together all memories of July 4th into one story. We Americans are ALL IMMIGRANTS! The issue for Americans has never been –how did you get here! No, the issue for Americans has always been–do you love America and will you fight for its continued existence!!