Archive for Our Stories
Sometimes specific holidays can take on special and personal meanings for people -- Memorial Day for the family of a fallen soldier, Labor Day for a refugee that used to work 14-hour days in a sweatshop. For me, the 4th of July has a special meaning -- not because I'm a born-and-bred American, but rather because that is precisely what I am not. The U.S. is my country because I chose it.
On July 7, 1865, three men and one woman were hanged for the crime of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. After the surrender of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the announcement that Lincoln would serve a second term as president, John Wilkes Booth, a young southern actor and patriot of the Confederacy, began plotting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. After hearing the announcement that President Lincoln would be attending a performance at the Ford Theater, Booth assigned the tasks of assassinating both Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson to a group of fellow conspirators. Although it was Booth who fired the bullet that killed the 16th president, this group of eight lesser-known conspirators aided Booth his scheme.
Last week, I found myself in New York City for a screening of our film Earth Days at the Paley Center for Media. Denis Hayes, chief organizer of that landmark demonstration, and current Chair of Earth Day 2010, is one of the main “characters” and participated in a panel discussion that followed. I was star-struck.
When you’re a little kid, your dad is invincible, a hero. There’s nothing that can hurt him – he’s the strongest, coolest, smartest dad on the block. My dad still is. He quit high school to support a family of eight after his father died but still found time to earn his GED. Later in life, he and my mother raised three boys, finding time between the intense sibling rivalries to send one to college. I share a piece of my personal history with you not for sympathy or pity but because I recently discovered a chink in my dad’s armor. I sent him a copy of A Class Apart, an American Experience film that highlighted a little-known Supreme Court case that established a foothold for Latino civil rights. After watching it, to my surprise, he said, "Mijo, I remember when this happened."