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Speaking (of) Spanish

I sometimes swim with the conservatives. Because of this I get mail from time to time on the subject of Spanish speakers in our society. I will use “Spanish speakers” as a term since there are many different groups in the US who speak the language. I hear stuff like “they don’t want to learn English”; “they swell welfare rolls”; “they commit crime out of proportion to their numbers”; “they have more accidents” and so on. You may have heard these things and more.

I can’t speak to the complete facts. I have lived on the Mexican-American border and have had up close and personal experience with “Tejano” dentists, policemen, teachers and fellow students. This was in the late 1950s, before it was so common to see and hear Spanish speakers in the Southeastern part of the country. The single individual who enjoyed speaking English more than anyone I ever met was Mr. Barrera, my English teacher in 10th grade. He was a Notre Dame graduate who seemed to roll the words around and get all the juice there was.

I know Spanish was spoken on this continent before English. I feel like all the Spanish speakers I have met who came here did so to take care of their family, as did the Europeans many of us count as ancestors.

Spanish speakers have won all the medals we award, maybe out of proportion to their numbers.

I know that in the early days of World War II, a young man named Guadalupe Rocha crossed the border near Laredo, Texas. When he enlisted in the Army, no one questioned his intentions. He had a knack for electronics and was assigned to the Air Corps. He eventually stayed around after the Air Corps became the United States Air Force. He retired after a successful career.

Before I forget: early in this process he married my mother’s sister and became my Uncle Johnny. This was why I had three terrific brown cousins – who didn’t even speak Spanish.

Through faith, you are all children of God… there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – from Galatians 3

Clyde Davis has been a quiet and faithful presence at GPPC for a number of decades. He is married to Fran, a lifetime member. He writes “I am a 72 year old retired insurance professional and software developer. I am a soccer fan and gardener. I grew up on air force bases and remember the smell of jet fuel.”

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