Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Cinco de Mayo (which is, of course, is Spanish for “fifth of May”) commemorates Mexico’s hard won victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 against the French. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain. That’s celebrated on September 16.
As they do on French Bastille Day, Irish Saint Patrick Day, and German Oktoberfest, many Americans join in Cinco de Mayo celebrations. In contrast to the military parades south of the border, we tend to enjoy festive parades, Mexican (or Tex Mex) food, and margaritas. Even the President joins in, in his own special way.
Taco bowls aside, the ability to celebrate other countries’ holidays is sign of cultural confidence. Americans have roots in other countries. For native Americans, those roots to Asia are thousands of years old. For new citizens and their children, the ties to the old country are more immediate.
Historically, America has succeeded in assimilating waves of legal immigrants who come in search of a new life. These immigrants add to the rich texture of American culture. Over time, new arrivals adopt American values like entrepreneurism, equality, tolerance, philanthropy, friendliness, and industriousness. They learn about rule of law, the Constitution, property rights, liberty, and community.
What makes one an American is not a common race or ethnicity or adherence to a narrow cultural norm as it is in many other places. Our bonds are not blood but an allegiance to ideas. America is an exception in a world of nationality-based nations. While Germany is for Germans, France for the French, and Mexico for Mexicans, America is for anyone who believes in America and who follows the law to become a part of our great nation. That is what makes America exceptional.
This exceptionalism gives us confidence to both enjoy our own roots as well as celebrate other cultures. At the same time, we all remain tethered to the values that make us great.
That’s what people who support illegal immigration don’t get: it’s not fair to all of those who came here legally, embraced American values and brought their own culture into the mix.
So put on that broad brimmed hat and pour a margarita. Let’s join our southern neighbor for a day and celebrate their accomplishments. There’s room in the American melting pot for empanadas, enchiladas and definitely pan dulce.
What are your thoughts?
Does immigration make America a better place, and does illegal immigration embrace that tradition or corrupt it? Learn more about American Exceptionalism and solutions to the immigration issue, and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts on Facebook!
Whatever your thoughts, enjoy Cinco de Mayo!