A friend writes:
My son Christopher posted a “review” on FaceBook about The Gala. I don’t know if you heard about the performance with students representing 72 countries in a procession carrying a flag for each country and dressed in the traditional clothing of their country. It was incredible! Such a testament to our diversity and unity! I am pasting post below in case you would like to include them as a blog post. He would be honored.- Dianne

January 21 at 11:53pm, Drexel Hill, PA
Today, I went to my school district’s 19th Gala—a yearly concert run by our Arts and Education Foundation that features student musicians from every one of our thirteen schools. At the first half’s closing act, a production of John Williams’ 2002 Olympics theme, there was an extra touch: the flags of the seventy-two different nationalities were displayed. These represented the true diversity of Upper Darby Township, the place where I grew up. As the music started, the screen displaying the American flag listed each of those nations by name, and students—who themselves or whose families had come from those countries—carried their flags down to surround the stage.

People occasionally insinuate (behind my back, of course) that my beliefs and values are the product of where I now go to school. And that always makes me laugh, because what Cornell tries to pass off as diversity couldn’t hold a candle to the raging torch that is the place where I grew up. This is where I come from, an often overlooked, always underfunded school district on the edge of Philadelphia that is the home to people of every nation, culture, and creed the world has to offer.

I drove across America this winter, from east coast to west coast, Atlantic to Pacific. I passed through what I’ve heard from some is the “real America,” but while some of it was beautiful, I have to call the lie. Because this, this right here, is what I think is the real America. Not because it’s what we are now, but because it’s what we have the potential to be. So when I hear the words America first, I raise you mine, America first a nation of immigrants, like the ones in my home town.

At the Tonys, the same day as the worst mass shooting in our history, Lin-Manuel Miranda read a sonnet as his acceptance speech for one of Hamilton’s many awards. Today, I was reminded of its final line.

“Now fill the world with music, love, and pride.”


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