July 4thwas my mother’s birthday. As a former military wife, it was immensely important to her to fly the American flag and wear red-white-and-blue in honor of “the American Way”.
It was a much simpler time, in 1939. In this photo, my mother was 16 and on her way to the annual “Cherokee Strip Land Run” celebration in her home town of Ponca City, Oklahoma. Much like today’s county fairs, there would have been a carnival atmosphere with games, events and DANCES! If there was a party, a dance, or a celebration, it would have been on her calendar.
In September, 1893, the Cherokee Strip Land Run opened over 12,000 square miles of new territory to white settlers. A single gunshot at noon signaled the start of what has been billed as “the largest, most spectacular” competitive event in history. Historians say that between noon and sunset, some 40,000 homesteads of 160 acres each had been claimed. Seven counties were populated, numerous town sites had been established and what was to later become the state of Oklahoma (14 years later) began to take shape.
Fast-forward to 2018, and I hang the American flag on our front porch this week in memory of my Mother and how much it meant to her. But, as I do so, I also ask myself, “How would I currently define the American Way?” I find myself having to redefine what that means to ME.
For me, the American Way is a way of life. I want to live in a land of HOPE. The HOPE that dreams can come true for those born here, as well as for those who immigrate here. We are all immigrants, unless you are Native American. My ancestors came here from Germany, England, and Ireland. They traversed the Trail of Tears and married Cherokee natives. My bloodlines are a melting pot of many cultures, traditions and dreams.
So, on this 4thof July, it is my HOPE for you, and for all who enter this country looking for HOPE, that you are able to follow your dreams and live in HOPE and FREEDOM with your families. May you find joy, happiness and something to celebrate this week!
“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
— From Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus,
as it appears on the Stature of Liberty in New York Harbor.