Several years ago, I spent a few days in Arlington, Virginia, on business. I had the good fortune of meeting a man from Eritrea named Mohammed, who worked two jobs. On the morning I was leaving to return home, he drove me to the airport. Mohammed asked me if I had a few minutes to spare. He turned off the meter and took me to see the Iwo Jima Memorial. He had a small stack of brochures. He gave me one as we slowly circled the monument. Mohammed related the story of the sculpture to me, before we both fell silent. I have not forgotten that early morning encounter, with a naturalized citizen and avid student of his adopted country’s history.
I am proud to be an American and am grateful to my grandparents for immigrating to this country in the early 20th century. I am happy to share citizenship with others, like Mohammed. Despite our differences in our countries of origin, our religion and our geographic location, we all are Americans. We honor our collective history and the sacrifices prior generations have made to ensure our well-being, and we are dedicated to creating a better nation and a better world.
Robert C. Pavlik, San Luis Obispo