Our Fourth of July

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

As a young boy, when we were still new to the United States, I remember my father out on our lawn raising the American flag. It was the fourth of July.

At the time, racism was a regular occurrence for our family. I was constantly bullied at school for being Korean. I had never had to consider my race until I moved to a country where I was no longer part of the only race. I had no labels, and then I was given one. I lost my individuality. I lost my voice. I was a stereotype.

Frequently, I was told to go back to where I came from. And that was the one area where I agreed with my persecutors. I wanted to go back home. I begged my parents every day to take me back. Then, when I saw my father raising the American flag, I couldn't understand what he was doing. I asked him, "Why?"

My father was not someone who liked to explain himself. He simply said,

Because this is your home. And this is what you do for your home.

America isn't a race, it's an idea. An idea we're still striving for. And if you take a stand for that idea, that's when you, too, become an American.

Much of my sense of responsibility came from him. To do what's right in spite of temporary feelings.

Now as a man, my late father's words have new meaning. This is my home. I am an American.

This is our Fourth of July.