What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation


The Bloodiest Battle, the Warmest Welcome

A Small Town in Luxembourg Remains Grateful to Their American Liberators—My Father Among Them

World War II, Luxembourg, American GIs

By Joel Fox
October 7, 2014

Like many World War II veterans, my father, Harry L. Fox, rarely spoke about his participation in the war. One can only suppose he did not want to awaken the ghosts of death, destruction, and hardships he had witnessed. Whenever I suggested we take a trip to Europe to visit the old battlegrounds, he refused, saying he would never go back there.

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My 1930s Education at the Movies

The Golden Age of Hollywood Taught Me About War, Crime, Natural Disasters—and What Was Funny About America

My 1930s Education at the Movies

By Manuel H. Rodriguez
September 22, 2014

I’d long wanted to see the two movies on the double bill at our neighborhood movie house, the Princess at 61st and Main streets in Los Angeles, that week in 1939. Brother Raul and friend Ernie wanted to see the films too, even though they had been made eight years earlier. Mother was not enthusiastic. “Those are very scary movies,” she warned. We were not dissuaded and found ourselves sitting in the darkened theater on Sunday afternoon as the curtains parted.

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At an Irish-American Funeral Home, I Found My Chinese Roots

Just Blocks Away From the Blarney Stone Pub, Buddhist Nuns Helped My Family Lay My Grandmother to Rest in San Francisco

At an Irish-American Funeral Home I Found My Chinese Roots

By Jia-Rui Cook
September 22, 2014

In a room filled with wreaths bearing Chinese characters on broad ribbons, two Buddhist nuns in embroidered yellow robes started chanting and striking bells. One by one, members of my family, each with a black band tied around an arm, approached my grandmother’s casket. Each of us held a smoldering joss stick between prayer hands and bowed three times in respect.

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