There was a time in America when you could really believe in E Pluribus Unum.
Of course, most Americans in the days when I was a kid in The Bronx may not have shared the same experiences in growing up, and most believed in another form of religion than I.
Nevertheless, it was safe to assume that my American counterpart living in Boise was very much like myself.
He most certainly aspired to the American Dream even though he may have defined it differently than I.
I know back then, I didn’t focus on the differences between Americans. I understood there were Protestants and Jews as well as Catholics.
There were Irish, Italians, and Germans, and many of the older Jewish people were Holocaust Victims, but we were all living together on Leland Avenue. We may have gone to different schools and houses of worship, but E Pluribus Unum described us sufficiently as we were all true Americans.
In 1960, I didn’t focus on differences in nationality, religion, or even race. My Catholic school was racially diverse and integrated long before I knew what these words meant.
There were many more Hispanic kids in our class than African Americans, but that was more a function of religion than racism. More Hispanics seemed to be Catholic than African Americans.
Notwithstanding, we did have a significant African American enrolment.
Again, whatever the nationality or color, E Pluribus Unum applied and was understood to be a shared American Experience.
I know nostalgia is a deceitful mistress that pretends that the past was better than the present. Indeed, not everyone shares my experience of E Pluribus Unum. Perhaps for many, it was only a false truth that hid the same hate that divided a nation in 1860 and still permeated Main Street USA even if to a ten-year-old in 1960, America was in a Golden Age.
Have A Happy And Safe Fourth of July America!
E Pluribus Unum is a concept we should all hope to guide us through turbulent times. It applies to all of us, not just those who would use patriotism to divide.
John Tentman sends his regards—Happy 50 th anniversary Hot Dog Beach Fourth of July!