I’ve always loved Memorial Day. It makes me feel patriotic and appreciate the sacrifices the armed forces have made to preserve the rights and freedom I cherish.
For as long as I can remember, my father has always flown the American flag with pride…even when we didn’t have a flagpole. While living in our small flagpole-less childhood home, he’d somehow manage to hang his HUGE flag from Vietnam on our small porch, making guests limbo underneath it or push it aside. And to make the cramped situation worse (or better, if you’d ask my dad), he’d also manage to hang the United State Marine Corps flag. Sweaty from his flag-hanging handiwork, he’d step back and admire the two flags wobbling from our porch. And—without fail—he’d belt out to no one in particular: HOO-RAH…Semper Fi! Which I’m guessing is loosely translated from Marinese to be something like: Once a Marine, Always a Marine and I Love this Beautiful Country to Sacrifice My Life to Protect and Serve Her…Bulldogs, Baby! Or something like that.
I like spending Memorial Day with my father. He’s engrained how blessed we are to live in this amazing country and how our lives are exponentially better. My father illegally immigrated to this country as a child with his mother and siblings. My grandmother worked in underground sweatshops, as a maid, as a cook, as pretty much anything to survive…and my father somehow managed to trickle into mainstream America unnoticed. Almost eight years after their immigration, they still could not get citizenship, so my father decided to voluntarily join the Marine Corps during the height of Vietnam. If he came back alive, he was guaranteed citizenship. Four years later, my father stood with a tiny American flag in his hand and said the Pledge of Allegiance in Los Angeles County City Hall as a citizen. Shortly thereafter, because of my father’s legal status, the rest of his family became American citizens as well.
So that’s why he still hangs his flags with pride. And although he has less hair, and a larger waistline, he’s still a Marine…and one of the proudest Americans I know.