On the Fourth of July, the Stars and Stripes will flutter from my balcony again. My flag has been in storage for the last three years.

Its absence doesn’t mean that I’m any less patriotic; in fact, I’m now more involved in the public discourse than ever before.

My family fled Vietnam and communism in the mid-1970s. My parents became naturalized citizens when I started high school. My father, a proud Galvestonian for the rest of his life, unfailingly displayed the flag on all holidays.

Once I had my own home, I got a bigger flag. Partly to honor his memory, but the overwhelming reason was simply because I felt the same sense of pride.

Since January 2017, I’ve stored the flag, and I’m ashamed of my ambivalence. Do I not feel the same visceral allegiance and love of country? What happened to the pride that I had? My conflicted feelings came slowly.

It began when I saw Old Glory flying next to the Confederate banner in Charlottesville and builds when I see it on the T-shirt of someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and chanting anti-immigrant slogans.

I look askance when I see the flag as a sticker on a pick-up truck next to one that says, “Build the Wall.” All of these link the flag to the chasm that is engulfing our country; it ties the flag to a nationalist, xenophobic, hateful rhetoric that I intellectually know isn’t inherent in the American character. But I can’t help it that my emotions tie them together.

I desperately want to find the common decency and civility which define my America. I want to feel tears of pride blurring my vision and a lump choking my throat when I belt out the national anthem at a baseball game.

This Independence Day, I reject the pessimism that my fellow Americans, with Old Glory on their T-shirts, may harbor resentment that people like me don’t really belong here.

I am taking the flag back. I don’t want the bigots to co-opt this symbol for which our forefathers sacrificed so much. Yes, it’s our forefathers. Although their blood may not course through my veins, their ideals are woven into the fabric of my character. Those of us who are ashamed at the current state of our country are still proud Americans. To love this country is not to accept it as it is, but to work to make it as it was meant to be.

Isn’t that what we’re taught? In church, it’s “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” To those who yell “go back to your country,” I say that I am already there.

Although I don’t physically resemble the men and women who built this country, I resemble them even more so in my conviction and belief that America is a nation like no other and that the ideas of equality, justice and freedom transcend any one race, ethnicity, gender or creed.

Happy Fourth of July, America.

Tri A. Dinh is a native of Galveston and now lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

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(10) comments

Bailey Jones

[thumbup]

Mark Stevens

Outstanding !! And a much belated Welome !!!

Mark W. Stevens

Jose' Boix

As a Cuban born, American Citizen, I could not agree more with Mr. Dinh's sentiments. The very diverse culture of this great Country is what make it the best - regardless of the many issues we face. As one who was an immigrant and has been able to travel, live and experience other countries and cultures, I can attest to my words. Aside from the immigration issues, why do you think so many folks from elsewhere "want in" the USA? And, how many want out - really? Just consider that the most ardent and vocal supporters of ideologies different than ours here, do it while reaping the benefits of all our freedoms. Just move to Cuba! God Bless America! Just my thoughts.

Albert S. Gonzales

Proud to be an Americans is evident in both Mr's Dinh's and Mr. Boix's statements and yes God Bless America. AMERICA HAS ALWAYS BEEN GREAT !!

Michael Guarino

Beautifully said! God bless America on this 4th of July. 🇺🇸

Megan Wang

Well said, thank you for sharing!

Brent Broussard

So, your choice for President loses so you put your flay away. That’s what you did in a nutshell, so you could have skipped the rest. Selective patriotism is for the weak.

Allison Buchtien

Well, we are in America, so he is free to do what he wants!

Charles Douglas

Mr. DINH, I can feel your inner struggle from a negative spirit to think evil of this country because others enjoying the freedoms

Charles Douglas

Mr. DINH, I can feel your inner struggle coming from a negative spirit influencing you to think negative of of others who are enjoying the same freedoms presented to them in this land of opportunity as were presented to you. I have in the past fought that battle myself. I am glad to see you in the end won the war, connected to that battle you lost for the three years your flag was put away because of how others made you feel emotionally about America by expressing their own freedoms. We receive power when we stop allowing others to manipulate or control our actions by our emotions! God bless you.

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