I am Rebecca and I have worked as a paralegal at Seifert Law Offices for over 7 years.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Atlanta, Georgia, where my family is from and I was born and raised. One of the main reasons that I visit Georgia is my grandmother; she is 98 years old. Many years ago when I decided to move 3,000 miles away at the age of 19, my grandmother gave me her blessing. When I decided to move to Mexico, again she gave me her blessing. No matter my plan, she believed in me. She believed that I could overcome any obstacle that life put before me. This past trip I remembered to thank her for that because just knowing that she believed in me was often what I needed to be brave enough to get over the obstacle.
I planned my trip to Georgia in late July so that I could see La Santa Cecilia perform. La Santa Cecilia is a band from the Los Angeles area and their summer tour did not bring them to Washington, so I went to see them perform in Georgia. Members of La Santa Cecilia are immigrants themselves or come from immigrant families, and they strongly support the struggle of immigrants in this country, both documented and undocumented. They play boleros and cumbias; they play the blues and funk; they and their music reflect a blending of cultures across genres and times and borders. It was such a fun concert and I was so grateful to be there!
While in Atlanta, I also got to attend an Atlanta United soccer game. While watching the teams warm up, I confessed to my friends that I was probably going to cry during the national anthem. Hearing someone sing the national anthem is powerful, and for me very conflicting, especially now that the current political climate does not represent me and my values and what I believe being an American is. I’ve had this internal dilemma with the anthem and the flag for a while, before it was even popular. I cringe at the idea of calling ourselves “the land of the free” when so many people I work with live in fear of losing their families, their stability, and everything they have worked for because of immigration status; documented, undocumented, temporarily protected, etc. So, when the anthem began, I cringed and my eyes teared up and then…. 90 minutes later Atlanta won the game 3-1 when striker Josef Martinez (an immigrant from Venezuela) scored 3 goals and broke the MLS record for the most hat tricks scored in a season!
However, it wasn’t until I was driving back from the Sea-Tac Airport that I could find some peace with the national anthem. Although I remain unsure about “the land of the free,” I am very convinced about “the home of the brave” because the immigrant story is one of bravery. The bravery to leave one’s country; the bravery to endure difficult times; the bravery to face the unknown; the bravery to risk everything for the sake of a better future; the bravery to remain strong in dark times; the bravery to be an immigrant. These are the people that I get to work with every day. These are the people that I believe in. And I can only hope that my belief in the people I work with has the same effect as me knowing that my grandmother once and still does.