As I watched Super Bowl 51, (LI for you purists) and in particular a commercial for Coke, I thought of the title phrase. My dear friends, take out your wallet. Reach inside and get a dollar bill. Turn it over. In addition to the “In God we Trust,” - YES, we still have God on our money - look at both sides. To the left, the very mysterious “seeing eye” and the pyramid, the subject of several books and movies about the influence of the Masons on early America. But looking to the right, we spot the subject of today’s attention. It is the Great Seal of the United States of America, with the Eagle in the middle. He grasps in one talon the tools of peace – an olive branch, and in the other, the arrows of war. We seek peace, but are prepared to fight. But in the fine print, lies the motto of our Nation: E PLURIBUS UNUM… Latin... “From many, One.” I wonder, with the lack of civics training in public schools, how many citizens actually can state and more importantly, translate the phrase. I would think the numbers are small, indeed, very small.
I thought of this sterling admonition, and how far we have drifted, as I watched the Coke commercial, the one with many voices on “America the Beautiful.”
The ad was not new, in fact went back to 2014. Perhaps now, with all the election result tensions gripping the nation, it seems more highlighted. The song is an American standard. One with classic lines like “Purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plain.” It celebrates the greatness, the vast glory of “Sea to shining Sea.” I enjoy all the versions - the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Lennon Sisters (showing my age a bit there), and especially the definitive rendition by Ray Charles. They vary in tempo, in pace and in tone, but are joined by one common, respectful trait - sung in English. What bothered and indeed offended me about the Coke ad was not the multiple ethnicities of the singers, but the language.
“America the Beautiful” should be sung, on the unofficial American Holiday of Super Bowl Sunday, in ENGLISH. Period. We are many, but we come together to form one. This is what the motto means. In the rush to celebrate diversity as a goal unto itself, we lose the essence of what it is to be American. We do not have an official language in the USA, and that is a tragedy. It is also the cause of such misplaced efforts as the Coke commercial.
It is not racist, not hateful nor “un American” to suggest that only American citizens should receive benefits from the U.S. government. Sadly, however, this is not the case. As a recently eligible Medicare recipient, I do periodically receive updates on my benefits. While most of the report is personal to me, many sections are generic. Printed on the back, instructions in a whole host of languages - Armenian, Polish, French, Vietnamese…from many, many?? Is this the motto? I think not. Is this the proper use of tax payer monies..? Again, I think not. Everyone who is legally in the U.S. does not have to speak English; BUT all those who collect from a benevolent Uncle Sam, in this country, should be citizens... and U.S. citizens, when dealing with the U.S. government, should speak ENGLISH. Case closed.
America is the great Melting Pot, the place where many do become one. But in so doing, the past lives, while celebrated and remembered, are subordinated to the new life as an American. Preserve the traditions, the culture, the language. Come out in costumes to touch the beauty of a past that flows in your blood. Eat corned beef and cabbage; eat tacos and burritos; eat sodemas and Polish sausage. But in the end, always have allegiance not to the shadows of the past, but the shared future sunshine of being a citizen of the USA. Celebrating diversity for its own sake is actually self-defeating, as it pulls the social fabric in many directions, with no sense of a commonality. When the contents of the pot melt, they are no longer salsa, no longer Velveeta cheese, but the wonderful concoction the two ingredients make, better perhaps, but no longer individuals. E pluribus Unum. From many, one. A stand to be taken.Be not afraid.