Posted by: David Stewart | July 4, 2009

A Rabble of Immigrants

On this fine Independence Day, I’m reminded of how we Americans are really just a motley crew of immigrants:

  • On this festive day, when we celebrate the birth of our nation, we celebrate with German food: hot dogs, hamburgers) and a Czech drink (beer). How about a Dutch dessert (apple pie)?
  • On our table is fresh guacamole, which is probably from someplace south of the border, I’m guessing. In fact, every table will be filled with food whose recipes likely started someplace else.
  • Don’t forget the Chinese fireworks. I was impressed this year with the abuse of trademarks, like the replica coke can fountain.
  • (Elsewhere in today’s news, I noticed that North Korea chose to launch rockets on our Independence Day. Talk about your big fireworks!)
  • Well at least our sports were invented here, like baseball (which is of course, bigger in other countries now than in the US) or basketball (well, it’s a winter sport). Hmmm, how about American Football? Oh yeah, a fall/winter sport. Likely on the 4th of July, 2009, there is more soccer played than anything else. OK, another import!
  • In fact, when the first July 4th was celebrated, the founding fathers’ concerns over racial harmony were that Americans of English descent wouldn’t get along well with the Americans of German descent! Today, we live comfortably with people of many national origins, although granted not always perfectly.
  • I remember that back in 2001, I had a Russian immigrant and a Chinese immigrant working for me. We were having lunch together, the three of us, and I felt like we were a little UN. In fact, we’re usually able to make peace on these shores between people groups that are otherwise locked in mortal combat over race and ethnicity in other lands. Again, not perfectly, but usually.
  • I noticed today that the USA Pavilion in the upcoming Shanghai Expo 2010 will highlight, among other things, the Chinese American community. What do Americans look like after all?
  • The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games are proof of this as well. The athletes from most countries look like they mostly come from a single ethnic stock. But the US contingent from recent games reflects a broad swath of ethnicities. What indeed do Americans look like?
  • Americans are often criticized for having virtually no culture of our own, and very little history. Often our culture is just an amalgam of the foods, languages and customs we brought with us. Maybe this is why the world buys our movies, music and microcode. (software).
  • Australia is also a land of immigrants. The first Australians greeted newcomers who were prisoners transported to their shores. My ancestors were forced out of Scotland at the point of a bayonet, but ended up as immigrants to this continent for economic opportunity and liberty.
  • Of course, our current president, July 4th, 2009, reflects an immigrant reality. But even the last president made it a point to be fluent in Spanish.

So if you are American, feel happy today that we are a land of many nations and peoples.



  1. Nice post!! Remember Bill Murry’s lecture to his fellow soldiers in “Stripes”?

  2. Oh noez! I saw that movie once, but don’t remember the speech.

  3. Ah, to the rescue. We’re mutts!:

    “We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts! Here’s proof: his nose is cold! But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw “Old Yeller?” Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end?”

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