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May 09th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

earl wattL&T Publisher Earl Watt


I’ve never believed that “burn” is a flavor. If food is too hot from the peppers, it’s not an enjoyable dining experience.

Pickled jalapeños on nachos is about as far as I can go, and that is in limited quantities.

But I love Mexican food, and we have some of the best anywhere in the nation right here in Liberal.

One of the ways we compare our local Mexican food restaurants is by their salsa. Some have very hot salsa while others serve a more mild variety, and there’s about everything in between.

I’m obviously not a fan of the burn salsas, but to each his own.

Liberal has a large Hispanic community, and so it comes as no surprise that when we are not facing a global pandemic that Cinco de Mayo is a big celebration here.

It won’t be this year, but I have no doubt it will be back as strong as ever in 2022.

First and foremost, Cinco de Mayo is not Independence Day for Mexico. It is a day that celebrated a military victory over the French in 1862. 

Strangely enough, the Mexicans were fighting a European power while Americans were fighting each other in 1862. That was the same time of the Civil War.

Some may ask why would we celebrate Cinco de Mayo since it comes from a foreign country.

May I remind you that Liberal’s biggest celebration is Pancake Day, and we borrowed the tradition from Olney England more than 60 years ago. Last I checked, England is also a foreign country.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating traditions from around the globe. I have been invited to Chinese New Year events right here in Liberal, and I have attended. I’ve also attended Juneteenth and Black History Month events that celebrate those who have African lineage.

We recognize St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish event, and Christmas certainly didn’t originate in the United States.

Very few of our tradition are native to the United States. Our nation was founded by and continues to be the home of immigrants. Every one of our family trees have roots in some other part of the world. Only the branches have made the journey across the oceans here. 

Even the Mexican people have ties to Europe through the Spanish settlements as well as other nations.

So those who move into the United States from Mexico are bringing a blended background of the Aztecs along with the Spanish, Portugal and other European influences.

The United States is a melting pot, and Liberal is a prime example.

We are a blended community with Hispanic, European, African American, Asian and other cultures, and recognizing that fact doesn’t lose our identity as a community or as the individuals we are.

If we believe in the individual, than we can easily celebrate any and all cultures who choose to call this place home.

For me, the biggest non-religious celebration of the year will always be the Fourth of July, the pinnacle of celebrations in the United States. That is the day that everyone who comes here from anywhere can celebrate the reason they came.

The only reason to leave another place to come to here is because there is an opportunity here that does not exist elsewhere, and that opportunity exists because of those who declared that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The government in the United States was limited, leaving the power in the hands of the people.

This isn’t the case in many other nations including Mexico where a socialist government has impoverished most of that nation while enriching only a select few.

It’s not the only example, and places where governments seized control from the people have always led to a steady stream of newcomers to the United States.

And each one of them embraced their newfound freedoms with respect and humility, sometimes with a greater respect for freedom than those born into it.

Ask any Cuban who escapes the communism of that country by grabbing a floating board and swimming to the shores of Florida, and they will tell you what freedom in the United States means to them.

The reasons for coming to the United States are obvious, and when we came, we brought our traditions and celebrations with us.

From the foods we eat to the way we recognize birthdays and more, we have yet to meet a holiday we don’t like.

If anything, we have lost sight of the value of our diversity because we have allowed our differences to define who we are as individuals rather than recognize that being different is what it means to be an American. Our differences do not separate us. They unite us. We aren’t defined by our color or our accent. We are defined by our acts of kindness to one another, our willingness to help someone in need and our compassion for those less fortunate.

Kindness isn’t something that is demanded by our government. It’s something we do on our own.

That’s what being American is. It’s celebrating all of our cultures as our own. Some may call this appropriation, but they miss the point of being American. We are just as much Asian as we are Italian, English just as much Spanish.

We have commonalities that are necessary for society to function. We use English as our standard language for documents and signage as an example. We also use miles instead of kilometers and inches instead of millimeters.

But other than that, we have freedom of faith, freedom of speech, and freedom to be who we want to be.

And we celebrate together as part of being an American.

This Cinco de Mayo, enjoy what has become a bigger celebration in the United States than anywhere else in the world.

We celebrate all cultures because we are all cultures. That’s not a weakness. It’s our strength.

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GUEST COLUMN, Dr. Roger Marshall, US Senate, Kansas


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L&T Publisher Earl Watt


Apples and oranges. False equivalencies. Straw man arguments.

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