Relish freedoms offered in America
The Kansas City Star
July sees the celebration of the America’s birthday, the land of immigrants. When my children were little, I used to take them out to watch fireworks on the evening of the Fourth of July.
I still remember the excitement I felt when I heard my son singing this song he learned from elementary school, the song that celebrates a nation of immigrants:
“From California, to the New York Island,
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me….”
This was how millions of immigrants felt in the past. This is how they feel today. And this shall still be the feeling of numerous ones in the years to come.
Rather than interpreting this song as an expression of patriotism, I think it is a confirmation of this nation’s values. “This is a free country,” as we often hear people say.
To millions of people who, like Madeleine Albright’s father, either escaped Nazi concentration camps or who came from a land ruled by dictator, American freedom is symbol of their destination. America embodies freedom, idealism, humanitarianism and justice for all.
It is the land that inspires freedom fighters around the world. America has provided protection and safety to those who are otherwise persecuted for being political dissidents. America is the land with the deep-rooted belief all men are created equal and their basic human rights are fully protected by law.
These basic human rights are not protected in many parts of the world. Even if this nation started with the “peculiar institution” of slavery, the United States has been moving toward equality and justice for all and has proudly achieved a level of racial equality almost unrivaled in the world.
America is the land that encourages free thinking and nourishes such entrepreneurs as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg. They are legendary heroes in the eyes of millions of youngsters who dream of coming over and becoming the next Steve Jobs.
Many things that we Americans take for granted are luxuries in many parts of the world, such as clean air and water, food safety and consumer protections. The Occupy Wall Street demonstration is a celebration of freedom of speech and freedom of public assembly.
Yet in some countries it would have been considered illegal. These demonstrators would have been thrown into jail for disruption of public order. The Watergate scandal forced the country’s highest executive to resign, which would be unimaginable under a totalitarian government. “All the President’s Men” by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward is not just an exposure of a scandal but an example of freedom of speech and journalists’ independence, showing that no one is above the law.
In many countries in the world, mass media is tightly controlled by the ruling party. The voices of the dissidents are forever silent.
In America, law protects personal property, including intellectual property rights so that there is no fear that one’s property will be confiscated or copied, as happens in some other countries.
American families open their doors to tens of thousands of infants throughout the world, most of whom were abandoned by their biological parents. The vitality, strength and attractions of the United States of America are made possible by the continuous flow of new immigrants into the country.
While the United States is not perfect and no country is, it is a country that is constantly improving, inspired by the belief of the Founding Fathers and the dream best articulated by Martin Luther King Jr. And to millions of people around the world, it is still their dream land.
Yanwen Xia, of Overland Park, grew up in China and worked as a reporter at China Daily. She has taught in colleges and now works in research at University of Kansas Hospital/Kansas City Cancer Center. To reach her, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108.