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Harris Sherline: Pledging Allegiance to ... Mexico?

Only the American flag should be waving as we commemorate our independence

The Fourth of July is the date that Americans celebrate our nation gaining its independence from England. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it quite that way. That is, it appears that there are many Hispanics who think July 4 is also the date when Mexicans celebrate their independence.

Harris Sherline
Harris Sherline

I must admit I was more than a little troubled — annoyed is probably a better word — at the sight of a Mexican flag being carried in Solvang’s Independence Day parade. It wasn’t just being carried in the parade; it was carried alongside the American flag and at the same height, which is a clear violation of the U.S. flag protocol. A number of people in the community have made the same observation to me, so it’s clear that I’m not alone.

There seems to be a general attitude on the part of many Hispanics that displaying Mexico’s flag is or should be of equal importance in America as our own traditions, but they are wrong. Mexico has its own independence day — actually two dates when they celebrate their freedom, from both Spanish and French dominance, specifically on Sept. 16 and May 5, respectively.

So, why do people display the Mexican flag at America’s July 4 Independence Day celebrations?

I don’t profess to have the answer, but I can tell you that, to me and many other Americans I know, it looks as though there are many Mexicans, regardless of their status as residents in this country — that is, legal or illegal — who are declaring their allegiance to Mexico. If so, they should go back. If not, they should be willing to become part of the traditional cultural and social traditions of becoming Americans first, regardless of their own ethnic and/or national heritage. Becoming or being “American” does not mean turning your back on your own heritage, but it does mean you owe your primary allegiance to America.

Americans are — or should be — Americans first. A major percentage of the 300 million people in this country are not very far removed from their own family members who were immigrants.

In my case, I am only a second-generation American. Both my paternal and maternal grandparents were from Russia. This is the case with many people I know — that is, they are not very far removed from the land of their forebearers. It may sound simplistic to some people, I suppose, but I certainly have no desire to carry or see a Russian flag in an Independence Day parade.

In addition, we don’t see anyone carrying an Irish flag in our July 4 parades, or Polish, German or French flags, or flags of any other nation. So, why do some people want to display a Mexican flag?

The answer or answers no doubt vary, but whatever the reason, I find it offensive, and many people I know feel the same way, including some Mexican-Americans.

On previous Independence Days, we have seen thousands of Mexicans marching in the streets of Los Angeles carrying the Mexican flag above the American flag. One year, a group of students from Lompoc High School attempted to march on the city’s main commercial street carrying the Mexican flag above that of the United States, but the local police quickly sent them back to school.

Furthermore, in some instances, the American flag was turned upside down, which is the generally accepted sign of distress. It was an extremely offensive display of Mexican nationalism, and one that I will not easily forget.

So, returning to the display of the Mexican flag in this year’s Independence Day parade in Solvang, what’s your own reaction? Is it much ado about nothing, or is it reason for offense?

I repeat: I find it offensive.

— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog, Opinionfest.com.

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