An Immigrant’s Wish
An immigrant’s wish for
a happy Fourth of July
Our mother Carmen Mullen Perez, who passed away in 1990, was a writer. A few years before her death, she wrote the following birthday letter to her adopted country. She was from the Philippines and was the granddaughter of a Thomasite. The Thomasites were American teachers. They were called Thomasites because they sailed to the Philippines in the early 1900s on a ship named the Thomasite. Growing up, our mother dreamt of one day immigrating to the “Land of the Free,” as she called America. She finally did in the mid 70’s. Soon after she arrived took a Greyhound bus across the country. During the trip she beheld the wondrous sights around her, such as the beautiful autumn leaves of the Northeast. You can see in her letter how passionate and grateful she was to be living in the land of her forefathers and how proud she was of being an American.
Marcela Prentice (and my sister, Rowena)
Happy Birthday, America!
by Carmen Mullen Perez
It’s easier to be sentimental when there is an occasion — perhaps be a little foolish. Even, so I won’t pass up this opportunity to be so on your birthday, America. If I sound stupid, talking to a country, who cares?
I know you don’t, for though everybody celebrated your birthday, how many did pause to wish you many, many more to come? I do with all my heart.
Did anyone else think of your welfare, what they can do to help solve your many ills, which are many, and further aggravated with the craziness and thoughtlessness of people who abuse your bounty and hospitality.
Did anybody at all bother to thank you for being what you are? A true haven of freedom — from want and hunger of the body as well as the spirit? Or, has anybody thanked you for allowing your children to experiment with their ideas, and letting their imaginations soar to the heavens itself?
I have known differently from where I once stayed. There, people who are entrusted with the care of the country and their peoples took this as a license to enslave themselves to greed and lust of all kinds, and thus hold in bondage the bodies and minds of the helpless inhabitants.
America, may you endure with the human species — for while you live, there is hope for man to thrive with dignity and self-respect, as all men should — beings created in the image of the God of light and love.
by Judy Rae