An immigrant’s perspective on Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July! For immigrants celebrating, the 4th of July has an added meaning.  We celebrate what the United States has given us.  The freedom for education, work and pursuing our dreams.  

On this date we all celebrate the 13 colonies coming together to establish this great nation.  A nation where immigrants can prosper and work hard to help their families.  On this date, we celebrate by coming together with our family and friends to make carne asada or hamburgers, to watch the fireworks and celebrate our independence. 

I remember attending my first 4th of July celebration, it reminded me of my home country, Guatemala.  It was the first time since I came from Guatemala that I had seen fireworks.  In Guatemala, we celebrated Christmas, New Year’s and any big celebration with fireworks.  Whenever I think of fireworks I think of home, the anticipation of a celebration, knowing that something big is happening.  

My parents were able to buy a house close to Kirkpatrick Memorial Park, where we can watch the fireworks from our front yard.  I remember our whole family eating carne asada, talking about the latest chisme and listening to cumbias.  For me, the meaning of the Fourth of July is enhanced by the fact that I get to celebrate living in the U.S.

For our recently naturalized citizens, the meaning can bring tears to your eyes.  Being a new citizen, having the ability to vote and be recognized by the country that has given you so much is a true blessing.  We may be different by the way we look, but we carry the same pride of this land as much as anybody.   Immigrants know that the United States is a great country and all we want to do is contribute our hard work ethic, continue our education and hope to hand down a better life for our children. 

This year, try something new.  Try inviting your neighbor over.  Share a taco or two.  Celebrate that we live in Lexington, Nebraska, one of the most diverse cities in Nebraska.  Celebrate our differences and how we can come together, regardless of where we are from--be it the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba or Somalia.   Share our successes and our failures.  Share how much you have learned since your arrival or birth here and how much we look forward to the future.

 Let us celebrate this great nation and the ability to share it with our neighbors.

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