A Great Day To Be, or Become, An American
In 1905, my maternal Great Grandfather, Eduard Prelutzsky, fled Odessa (and service in the Russian Army, which was at the time losing a war with Japan.) He tried settling in Vienna, and London, but found neither particularly hospitable to Ukranian Jews.
Brooklyn, on the other hand…
A few years later, my paternal Grandfather, Michaelangelo Avallone (sr.) was having some trouble. He had fallen in love with a married girl, Marie Antoinette Antonelli Iacovetti. She already had three children with Iacovetti, but in spite of that, risking the displeasure of the Pope and Jesus Christ himself, Michaelangelo spirited his beloved Marie away to the United States, and New York City. My father was born and raised in the Bronx.
I don’t know if it’s obvious, but the reason I write about politics is that I am, in fact, very patriotic. America means a lot to me. Not just as a place, and my home, but as a collection of ideas, and ideals. America is at her worst when she doesn’t honor those ideals (cf Dick Cheney) and at her best when she strives to live up to her promise.
Last night we saw the birth of a new American hero: Wendy Davis of Texas. A strong, necessary reminder to us smug coastal Liberals that every state in the Union is worth fighting for. Empty suits like Rick Perry will come and go (he was going to be a serious threat to Obama, remember?), but a woman like Wendy Davis shines like a beacon.
“Lighthouses, John. Lighthouses in a foggy world.” That’s Frank Capra and Robert Riskind’s screenplay for MEET JOHN DOE. I’ve attached the clip to the bottom of this essay, and I recommend it highly. It sums up my feelings about America as well as anything I’ve ever seen or read.
Today, I woke to the news about DOMA and Prop 8. Our Supreme Court, still dragging a couple of psychotic dinosaurs into the 21st Century, managed to make the right decisions. The system, broken as it sometimes is, can still work. The Civil Rights struggle of this generation wins two battles, even as the struggle of a previous generation takes a knock, with the overturning of the VRA. Two steps forward, one step back. But I’ll take it. If there’s one thing I learned from my mother it is that this fight is never over.
By strange coincidence, I have been offered an opportunity to celebrate the victories of the past twenty-four hours in the most beautiful way possible.
Two months ago, we were auditioning actors to play a Buddhist Monk in the film I just produced. An actor came in, named Kee Chan, and gave a beautiful reading. We cast him, and he was fantastic in the role. Not incidentally, he was also a gentleman of great kindness and sensitivity. A week or so ago, Kee told me that after twelve years he was to finally take the oath as a Citizen of the United States of America.
Kee is, in relative terms, a passing acquaintance… and yet… today I am going down to stand with him and watch him take that Oath. I love America, and I can’t help but be impressed, and moved, by people who choose to be American, who wait and work and strive for a thing I was born into. My new friend, who today takes the Oath, is a reminder of what I will not, and must not, take for granted.
Today is a great, beautiful, shining day to be, or become, an American.
Go about 50 seconds in. James Gleaon’s drunk scene. For context, a crusty newspaper editor (Gleason) is trying to tell a naïve populist speaker (Gary Cooper) that his corporate sponsor, DB Norton, is trying to turn Cooper’s grass roots movement into a proto fascist political party.