This is a story of my family history and community who inspire my personal American creed. More specifically, I am grateful for my parents for raising me up as close as they did. Thank you and enjoy!
“If I believe in heaven I deny myself a death. dying keeps me conscious of the way I waste my breath.” - Love This by Cosmo Jarvis
I start with this quote this morning because of its meaning to me. It reminds me of the precious fragility of life, the way I spend each day leading up to my death, and is the reasoning behind my tenets.
It seems ironic to talk of faith for a tenet after my previous quote, but it is faith in my own and others' human capabilities. Faith in human capabilities is important however, it will go nowhere without passion that shows how willing we are to put effort into a subject. Just as crucial is perseverance, sometimes even hardheadedness, which ensures we don’t lose the light of faith which serves to keep us going when sometimes passion isn’t strong enough.
The setting is in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Much like Dr. Condaleeza Rice when she states that “we are a land of immigrants," Louis Marquez, my abuelo, was born in 1921 to a family of Spanish immigrants. He and his family worked at a small resort though the Great Depression. Abuelo had faith that he and his family would survive. In a large family like his there is no other option. After working for twenty years for the same company, Abuelo retired from his job. In 1979, at fifty-eight he and his 3rd wife (age thirty-eight) had a son in named Troy and he is my dad.
After a divorced ensued, Abuelo took Troy to Florida for a better education. My dad may not have known English at the time but his teacher had faith in him that he could learn it. Every morning she would make him read the Sunday newspaper and she refused to start class until he read through it. She even assigned him a classmate to help understand and learn in class much like Principal Deidra Prevett who says about students in schools that we must “make sure they feel loved and that we’re giving them the best education we can give.” From Tulsa, Oklahoma, she understands the great importance of being there for her students. Knowing all this, there was no Spanish immersion back in my dad's time. Dad’s teacher was not paid to teach him English. It wasn’t even in her job description but she went above and beyond.
Another family example I have is passion for work: Abuelo retired but his passion to work survived the Great Depression. He couldn’t just stop working so he decided to work in a drug unit, then later, a gas station. The work hard-play hard ethic was passed to Dad who later joined the army as a combat medic, often called the worst position due to the horrors seen. He has such stunning examples of people overseas who persevere through their suffering. My dad is my primary reason for my faith in human capabilities to persevere through the hard times and cherish every happy moment.
As a military family our community is a massive web of friends, our chosen family, scattered around the United States and some international. Much like Tegan Griffith who admits “I always like to say I could go on a road trip around America and I’d have a place to stay in every state because of being in the military,” our extended family greets us with open arms just as we do to them. A few of our friends are from overseas, some from bad home lives, and many are just average, regular people.
It hasn’t always been easy. Recently, at my little brother’s final band concert, my mom was asked why she thinks it is nice that this one family she met has family dinners every weekend. She smiles a warm, knowing smile and gently says that "the closest I’ve ever lived to my parents since moving out at nineteen with my husband when he joined the army was eight hours away. I am now thirty-seven. We decide to leave everything we know for the rest of our lives so you can live with everything you know for the rest of your lives. This is why they say the military is special.” She then points to her head and asks “why it’s hard for us and our children to relate to anyone.” Coming from an army wife, my mother, and the strongest person I know, this hits deep and hard.
We all share a diverse past, however, we choose to look to the future and not let it divide us. The diversity is what allows us a way to perceive things from so many other perspectives. We ask ourselves in what ways can we contribute to our children and their education? How can this passionate drive to succeed help others instead of running over them? As these questions surface, not everyone knows what to do but that is why our community is there to help us.
Finally, these pictures show the John F. Kennedy Memorial Eternal Flame and the text set in stone: "My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man” and come from Kennedy’s inaugural address. These two together call out to our passions. When I was younger I wanted to be very much like this flame in the sense that I have a burning desire to help. After having many older relatives, I would love to be in the medical industry helping others to keep on pursuing their own dreams and someday lie to rest in the last of their own. Tying back to my opening quote, knowing my time here is limited and will end at any moment, much like any other person, can be one of the most terrifying thoughts to some. Yet I take this irrefutable fact to turn it into part of my passion and perseverance; it reminds me how valuable the lives of my community and family are. I have faith in the potential to make our lives as fulfilling as possible so we might all know freedom.