Revised & Expanded July 4, 2019
I want a new national anthem for the United States. I want it to be Woody Guthrie’s 1944 song, This Land, and give him the Congressional Gold Medal for it.
If they won’t replace the current anthem, let there be two. And why not?
My parents’ generation fought World War II. Actually, my father and his father were in the Navy in the Pacific Ocean at the same time during the war. This closeness of my generation to that war made it fresh in our collective mind during my youth.
Fighting with Germans was a very popular TV and movie theme (think Vic Morrow in Combat), and we saw propaganda movies made during the war, too. “We,” in my case, being German Americans.
That paternal grandfather in the Navy in WWII was a “first-born American” to German immigrant parents. My paternal grandmother’s family was rooted partly in Berlin, Germany. My mother’s maternal grandparents came from Slovenia to the coal mines of Forest City, Pennsylvania, near Scranton. My maternal grandmother was born in Slovenia and “brought over” as an infant. So I’m the grandson of an immigrant and the great-grandson of several other immigrants.
It’s an amazing world, where my connection to Germany was “flavored” by TV-steeped kids teasing me, calling me a Nazi because my name was German, and the Italians were Guineas and WOPS (“Without Papers” … yeah, undocumented immigrants coming over a wall thousands of miles wide in fathomless water … but they climbed that wall), and the Puerto Ricans were Spics, and the Jews were Kikes, and Vietnam gave us Gooks and there were Slopeheads before them, and the Spooks, the Niggers, the Jungle Bunnies, the African Americans, who seem almost never to get a break no matter how long it’s been since they began “immigrating,” people who are more American than almost anybody. The nation would not exist without them. Could we have funded the American Revolution without Black slave labor? (And this is really “Marlboro Country” when you think about the role of tobacco in the Revolutionary economy.)
In this endless American atrocity of degrading, abusing, cheating, even killing human beings because of their color, ethnicity, nationality or religion, we can include putting an ethnic class of law-abiding American immigrants AND CITIZENS into concentration camps while members of their same ethnicity fought for this country. This is the Japanese in World War II.
They don’t fit the immigrant model, but Native Americans were subjected to genocide, not merely because they were deemed “savages,” but because they were in the way of American “progress.”
This is America, where there are always people underfoot and people walking on them, power thriving on senseless hatred, until the tides turn. Then, new groups become the underclass (or get added to the list of existing ones).
I guess that’s an immigrant nation for you, where they fight to get here, fight the consequences of being here because they are lowly immigrants mistreated by the “citizens,” then they go fight and kill their relatives “over there” to protect what they’ve been fighting for over here, then become allies with the enemies. Amazing. Pay your dues in the blood of both heart and soul, and become American.