By Alvaro Macias
Originally published on July 4, 2006
A few years ago I was meeting with a client who wanted to know if Hispanics celebrated the Fourth of July, before he asked he made sure he could ask me a question that might sound “bad.” I think it was a very valid question. I referred to my own personal experiences and I told him that first off we usually have the day off of work and that my family gets together for a cookout. We’ll get some fireworks for the kids and that’s about it. He laughed and said, “Just like us.” I thought about it and realized that most people just spend this day with their families, no matter what their background is. I guess he could ask the same about the people of Chinese, Bosnian, or African descent that reside in our area. I don’t know the answer but I would bet money that they celebrate very much the same. If they don’t, eventually they will.
Some people put hamburgers on the grill, while others have arrachera (skirt steak). Some people spend thousands of dollars on fireworks while others might settle for some sparklers. There is no right or wrong way of celebrating; to many it is a day spent with family.
But let’s not forget that the reason we celebrate is because on July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted officially making the United States an independent nation with very unique characteristics that are reflected today. It is a nation built by immigrants; it is a nation that was built for those who were persecuted by their governments. It is a nation where one can make something out of nothing. This is a nation full of opportunities. As an immigrant from a country where corruption is so widespread and the best opportunities are reserved for a select few, I can appreciate these opportunities that are available probably more than someone who was born here. You don’t have to be born into a wealthy family to get a formal education. You don’t even need a college education to be a successful businessperson.
“You can go to the moon, if you wanted to,” an old man told me a few years back while I was waiting at the barber shop. I thought he was just being funny, but he was right. It is true, if any kid puts some effort to it, they can travel to the moon. Why not?
As a proud Mexican immigrant I will never forget where I came from. The United States is my new home for good; it is where I grew up most of my life. It is where I received my education, and here is where I make a living; it is where I want to live.
In my family July 4th is a pretty significant holiday, being that it is the day we arrived in Moline, IL from Mexico for good. I remember my cousins lighting fireworks and sparklers and thinking that it was a really nice welcome. That is until my uncle burst my bubble and said it was a holiday. I was a kid who didn’t know much about this country let alone any English, but I do remember it was a great time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I guess celebrating the Fourth of July has been something this Hispanic family has been doing, even before we knew what it was. To this day we celebrate just like any other family across the United States. Yeah we might have different dishes or play different music, but on July 4th we get to spend time together as a family in a very American manner.