On Sunday, Hispanic heritage and culture were up for celebration here in the Valley as more than 3,000 people attended an annual festival, according to an article in Monday's edition of the Daily News-Record.
Food vendors featured traditional Hispanic food from different Latin America countries while merchandise vendors carried on with the same theme of selling clothing, jewelry and accessories that paid tribute to Hispanic heritage, according to the article.
Festivals like this highlight not only the diversity in our community, but also the benefits of living in a country the United States.
We are a nation of immigrants, but more than that, we have a fluid and multi-layered approach to culture. Some of this may be because of the sheer size of our country, but most of it is because of how many people with roots in all corners of the world call the U.S. home.
Identifying with one's origin and cultural background is accepted and celebrated in many cases. We proudly call ourselves hyphenated versions of "American," i.e. Italian-American, African-American, Mexican-American and so much more, and in doing so we do not lose any of what makes us who we are. It doesn't have to mean you're half one thing and half another — it can mean you're an American who has the freedom to revel in and embrace all facets of your identity. You don't have to lose part of yourself to be woven into American society.
That's what makes this country unique and what makes our appeal to freedom and refuge for those in need so vital. Rejecting anyone's drive and identity as a multi-layered American goes against the very fabric of our society.
The diversity of what it means to be an American and how many different expressions that can have is something to be welcomed and celebrated, much like we did with the local Hispanic community on Sunday. As we navigate through difficult and divisive times politically and in society, it would do us well to remember that there is no one picture of an American and our strength is in our differences and our tolerance and appreciation of our varying identities.