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Opinion: What the 4th of July Means to Me


What? 4th of July is just around the corner? Woohoo! We get a day off!!!

The funny thing is, this is what most people of all ages may be thinking. In other words, the 4th of July has lost its meaning, and to the average Joe or Jane, it is just another day off from work.

Anyway, when you read this article, you will learn at least one point of view regarding the meaning of the 4th of July (or Independence Day) from an immigrant who was naturalized a US citizen.

If I'm lucky, I will at least help remind at least one American, or a future American, what it truly means.

Unscientific Finding

In California, I teach Taekwondo (a Korean Martial Art, known for its powerful kicks; aka Tae Kwon Do) to mostly little kids. These kids are basically a portion of the future of America, and they range in age from 6 to 12.

These past several days, I've been reminding them that we have no class on the 4th of July. then I proceed to ask them if they know what the 4th of July is. Here are the answers I get from a group of about 20 kids:

  • We get the day off (if they say this, I ask them why we get the day off)
  • It's Independence day (if they say this, I ask what's Independence day)
  • It's the day a bunch of people signed the declaration of independence (if they say this, I ask them which people and independence from what?)

Eventually, I would have to guide them to the answer that it is a day we commemorate our independence from the British government; it happened long ago, back in 1776.

This tells me that at school, their teacher may not be spending enough time really driving home the true meaning of Independence Day, and its significance. That is a sad state of affair for our school system, considering these kids are our future and are basically sponges ready to learn.

Independence Day to Me

I am an immigrant and a naturalized US citizen. I spent my first 12 years living in a country which I now consider as a foreign country. I've been living in my country (the great US of A) since then--over 35 plus years ago.

Where I come from, the people dream of coming to America. They know America as the land of opportunity. They also know that hard work and true effort in America will lead to success. I've seen families go to America, and I heard great success stories. Those same people earned money and sent some back to help those who were left behind.

When my father's immigration application was eventually approved (after waiting many years), we were very excited. The entire family made it just in time to get out of a country-wide imposed martial law. As some of you know, in a country where there is martial law, people's freedoms are severely restricted. Anyway, in time we arrived in the US, got our green card, and eventually applied to become naturalized US citizens.

I never forgot where I came from, and never took for granted the freedom, opportunities, and successes we've had here since arriving. Thus to me, the 4th of July is a greatest of all days, since without it, America as we know it would not exist; and my family as I know it now would still be struggling, barely making a living in a country were corruption is deeply rooted in the government.

Thanks to our forefathers who fought hard to gain America's independence. Happy Independence Day America!!!

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