Thursday, July 3, 2008


I telephoned my mother Monday night to ask if she’d write me a little something about what the Fourth of July means to her. She’s a naturalized American, the proudest I know, and so I thought her comments might be something nice to publish on this special day, but she reminded me she had houseguests coming for the weekend and would be too busy preparing. Suddenly, though, she was talking… “….I just feel so privileged to have been welcomed here, so honored” topic had provoked some feelings, and I was quickly taking notes on the back of an envelope on my desk.

“People born here take America for granted,” she continued, “I feel very privileged that I’m an American. I remember how hard it was for me to get a VISA. Even on the Excaliber, the ship which brought me here, some paperwork hadn’t been filled out correctly so the ship’s doctor had to examine me there…I think it was something to do with my eyes… Mom is Armenian and was born in Istanbul and raised in Cairo, Egypt. “Do you know that there are people who come from the old country now with the phone numbers of how to get welfare here when they arrive? That's so wrong, the harder it is to come into this country, the more you appreciate it….you feel like you’ve really accomplished something! You are in America!” Mom told me.

“It hurts me how this country’s changed.” I asked Mom what she meant by ‘changed’. “Well, in Cairo, you had to really watch yourself on the streets, be careful who you were standing next to, you couldn’t walk outside at night, and now it’s almost like that here. Fifty years ago, you could walk anywhere, you could leave your door unlocked, but now it’s almost like Cairo, you have to be careful. I miss how it was, but I’m convinced good will prevail, we’ll feel that freedom again.”

“I just know this country will go back to how it was when I first got here. It has to…I know it will……By the way, honey, do you know where I can get a copy of the Constitution?”

With that, I knew my interview was finished. Could I have made up a better ending than that?

Thanks, Mom, I love you. And I love how you love this great country that you and Dad gave to me. I so appreciate that I didn’t have to work to get in, and remember that I and a bunch of really good people are blogging every day trying to make sure that “good” you feel so sure about “will prevail.” And I’ll get you a copy of the constitution. You really ought to have one. We all should.


Pat Jenkins said...

first off z your guests' insights this week have been brilliant.... your mother's comments prove the importance of mankind being able to fulfill his dreams and purpose for a full existence. this nation has always stood for that allowance. let us pray that continues.... wish your mother a happy fourth for me!!!

Anonymous said...

Please wish your Mom a Happy Independence Day from me.

She personifies what America is all about. It's really very simple. Just be an American.

If we could have only one requirement for those who come here, all it would have to be is, "To love America".
As your Mom does.

It is our privilege that she came here and contributed a good family and American values.

For us here, we are fortunate that you Z, are part of that package.

Thanks to your Mom and to you and Mr. Z, for making our great nation a better place.


namaste said...

this is a wonderful post! happy 4th of july to you and your family!


Z said...

PLEASE CHECK OUT NAMASTE'S POST on her WITH MY WHOLE HEART blog...You will not be sorry, it's beautiful and so touching and inspirational!

Thanks, Namaste!! xxx

namaste said...

thanks z! you rock! ;)


Melanie said...

Your Mom is beautiful. I wish all Americans saw how precious our country is..not only the landscape but what it stands for...freedom. Freedom to be anything you want to be. Freedom to worship wherever you want to worship. Freedom to say whatever you want to matter how goofy. The dems prove that to be I do pray that we remember...that it does not take a tragedy to wake us up! God bless America!

Papa Frank said...

This is a beautiful post my friend. It is so humbling to hear her words and know there is so much that I have taken for granted at times. When I lived in NYC one of the things that I absolutely loved was the presence of all the different cultures there. So many came to America through Ellis Island and never made it out of the city but settled right there. Many good people. Strong people. Grateful people. Those of us born here should be double grateful and yet so often we take freedom for granted. Please tell your mother that I think she is beautiful.

Layla said...

What a beautiful post. Happy Independence Day from my family to yours Z.

G-d bless us all and keep us free from terror and the evils that surround us.

EDGE said...

Great post, Z!

I hope you and your family have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

Nikki said...

yes a beautiful tribute to America and to Mom! It really hits the nail on the head. Parents teach your children to love our country. My son is in scouts and learns this lesson so fervently. Thanks and happy 4th to Z! be safe! :)N

Z said...

Thanks, everybody; I'll be with family tomorrow for pool and barbecue and, hopefully, some fireworks seen from my sister's hill in her backyard ...I'm going to read my mother your comments. What a wonderful reaction you've all had..she'll love it.

And I know she'd send her best wishes for a glorious (and mindful) day to you all! Thanks so much xxx Z

Brooke said...

Your mother is a wise woman, Z!

Elmers Brother said...

nice z. Give your mother a hug from one American to another.

Anonymous said...

Off topic. Z you might enjoy this because it blends two topics, one that I wrote about and one that's patriotic and appropriate for the 4th of July.
Josh Kay, owner of sends thousands of cakes per year to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq for their birthdays AND gives 5% of his profits to the Make a Wish Foundation.

THAT'S Tikkun Olam and patriotism in action!


kevin said...

God Bless America and your Mom Z.
Happy 4th!

Anonymous said...

That was a wonderful and touching article Z. Your mom sounds like a great American. Can I teach her how to use a weapon? Just kidding.


Anonymous said...

Let me start with saying this:
I read your essay about your Mom , and her experiences getting into America, and the mere fact that the ship she came in on was named Excalibur is awesome.

Her comments about comparisons to feelings of being in Cairo and being here now , how the two are similar now days is very interesting.

I take heed to her words.

So glad she came to America and raised a family here, a family who loves America.

Also, I would like to say I read Namaste's insights and appreciate her comments about her life and upbringing.

Namaste, if you see this, welcome to America.

You are home.


Karen Townsend said...

What a lovely post. Like mother, like daughter.

Wishing you and Mr. Z a terrific 4th of July.

Z said...

YOu're all so nice......Morgan, I'm trying to picture my mother packing a rod!
WVDottr..great welcome to Namaste, isn't she wonderful? very, very kind, thanks.

Elbro, Brooke..THANKS.

xxx z

Melanie said...

Happy Independence Day!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute, z! I remember a fourth of July I celebrated in the States...the one right after 9/11. We were all gathered in the rodeo stadium downtown, a big crowd considering the size of the little crowd in a very monocultural American town. But right behind me was a heavily accented woman singing 'Proud to be an American' at the top of her lungs with the crowd and you could see she really was proud! I don't know her story but I'd say that she's fulfilled her life's dream by migrating to the States and that she can't wait for the fourth to stand under the fireworks and thank God for her new life.
Happy fourth to you and your family. Enjoy the watermelon and cake.

Always On Watch said...

Fifty years ago, you could walk anywhere, you could leave your door unlocked...

Now, of course, we lock up like crazy. And we take precautions everywhere we go in the D.C. area, not only in the rougher downtown sections.

“People born here take America for granted,”

My Korean-immigrant friends express the same thought. How they love America and take pride in their naturalized citizenship!

May God bless America, especially today, on her birthday!

nanc said...

wise woman, your mom.

the old adage "you don't know what you have until it's gone" comes to mind - may we never find out.


Anonymous said...

What a great way to start off my 4th, Z!
I share your mom's optimism.
And I have a copy of the Constitution. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wishing you and Mr. Z a wonderful Independence Day!

Mike's America said...

I would just disagree with Mom on one point: I never took my birthright citizenship for granted.

I am so grateful that I was born in this country and so grateful as well that millions more like your Mom made the trip here to become Americans as well.

The fact that so many millions around the world would rather live here than anywhere else is a stunning testament to the goodness of this country that I have always appreciated.

Happy 4th of July to all!

Anonymous said...

Through your stories, I have learned that I would have enjoyed knowing your Father and Mother; this probably explains why I like you and Mr. Z so much. So I thank you for allowing us to become part of your family through these personal glimpses.

In many countries, people refer to their country as "the fatherland." Here, we relate our America to "motherland." I don't know why -- maybe it is because for most of our history, we have loved America much like we adore our mothers; we pledge our lives to our America like we would the defense of our mothers.

Perhaps this one statement explains the correlation: I’m convinced good will prevail. Only a mother, or a country like America, can produce such optimism.


Anonymous said...


To all here, have a great Independence Day.

So, fire up the marching bands, the BBQ, and the fireworks.

This is the day for all Americans to say to our country and countrymen. We love you!!

God Bless America.


nanc said...

o.t. - jesse helms has left the building...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your mom with us Z!

Your mother hits the nail on the head: the difference between entering through EARNING and WORKING your way to arrive with the GOAL of 'becoming' an American, and that of today with a sense of 'entitlement' and simply 'taking' from her while remaining LOYAL to your home country...


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday America! Hello ZinLA, hello everyone. Living here in New Jersey there is so much Revolutionary War history, Monmouth Battlefield park(June 28,1778), Fort Lee, Princeton, Trenton. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by it all and to live in the greatest country in the world. God Bless America. Johnnymac

WomanHonorThyself said...

*waves to mom!..luv it Z!!..Happy Fourth of Juuuuuuuuly my friend! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Z for the kind words and thoughts you left at my site!

Enjoy your holiday!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you have publicly honored both your mother and your father, Z.

Thanks for helping to make this better fourth than usual.

~ FreeThinke

MathewK said...

Happy Birthday America, may you have many, many more and thank you for what you are, a beacon for what is good, for freedom, for liberty, for hope in this dark and dangerous world and for being the protective brother who we don't appreciate and acknowledge enough.

Thank you most of all to your sons and daughters who put their lives on the line, in distant parts of the world for those they don't even know, for something bigger than themselves.

Z said...

At the risk of sounding like a sentimental nut (which would be the truth!), I want to tell you all how much these messages meant to me AND MOM! We were together at a barbecue today and I got on my sister's computer and read mom her article and your comments.
She was astonished that I did the piece and SO touched by all your remarks. You should have seen the smile on her face!!

Thanks everyone.

MK..Aurora, to have Australians 'get' our country better than our left does is humbling and gratifying. We love you guys SO MUCH! Thanks for your support (to OTTO, too!)

Happy Fourth, you lovely people....Reading these comments made me feel 'full'..that I know people this good even only thru comments on a blog!, that we all belong to this great country!

God bless you all..and GOD BLESS THIS FANTASTIC COUNTRY!! xxxxx

Anonymous said...

nanc you know that Jesse Helms was a great guy! He was even more rock-ribbed than Ronald Reagan, and the left HATED HIS GUTS!!!!!!!

He was a good man indeed.


Z said...

nanc, Morgan....the left's playin' with Jessie Helms, you notice?

Ya...CNN did this INCREDIBLE few minutes on him... I was laughing, I swear. It went something like this...

"Jessie Helms was vehemently against abortion RIGHTS and gay marriage RIGHTS and was revered by Republicans.."

GET IT? Note to American voter: "THIS is the kind of guy, this
'hater of rights' , who REPUBLICANS LIKE!"

I'm not sure I've seen the political party of any newly deceased politician, but Yahoo, for longer hours than usual, had one of its homepage headlines up "REPUBLICAN JESSIE HELMS DIES" if to remind people what he was. You know very well Helms was despised by the Left for his very traditional, Judeo-Christian values.....I kept marveling that it was still on the page then realized the connection they were forcing.

Nice to hear good people eulogize the guy kindly here, at least (nanc and Morgan!)......maybe FOX did. i didn't see a thing there.

oh, ya.

Anonymous said...

Just reread this heartwarming piece, and decided that this may be my favorite part:

“Do you know that there are people who come from the old country now with the phone numbers of how to get welfare here when they arrive? That's so wrong, the harder it is to come into this country, the more you appreciate it…"

There's more wisdom and truth in that one paragraph than anyone could digest all at one sitting.

Great stuff! Thanks again for posting this, Z.

~ FreeThinke

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

What a great 4th of July post! Your mom is a gem. Thanks for transcribing her feelings.

Enjoy what's left of Independence Day weekend.

Z said...

THANKS, everyone...!!

Indigo Red said...

At some time in my life, I must have taken for granted my of freedom and liberty in America. It must have been a very long time ago, because I don't remember it. My grandparents, both immigrants, would remind us of how lucky we were to be born Americans.

Along with the Constitution, your Mother should also have a Declaration of Independence. But, because it is hard to read and understand, you might want to use a modern language version I've posted today. In Congress, July 4, 2009 - A Modern Declaration of Independence.

Anonymous said...