I am the granddaughter of an immigrant grandfather from Punta Arenas, a city situated at the southernmost tip of Chile. The fervent sparks of American pride I inherited from my grandfather kindled my belief in the power of the American Dream.
My grandpa grew up on a relatively successful family-run sheep ranch on the coast of Chile. However, like many others in the 1950s, he was entranced by the boundless opportunities, endless freedoms, and prosperous futures America presented.
On cool summer evenings I would often accompany my grandpa on his routine sunset drives around his farm in eastern Washington. We would drive across the rolling golden hills and pass grain silos that rose to the heavens like grand columns. Often we would not talk, he would just hold my hand as I sat beside him listening to Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” on repeat; however, when he did talk he would passionately remind me: “Avery, nothing is better than this. Everything you see is ours, this will all be yours one day”.
As a third-culture kid, I often found it difficult to understand how he could possibly think that a family farm in the middle of Hicksville, U.S.A. could even be a contender on the list of the best places on earth when there were magical world treasures like Rome and Paris a mere 14-hour plane ride away. In retrospect I realize that it never was about where the farm was, it was about what it represented.
The ranch symbolized my grandpa’s efforts to manifest his American Dream. It reminded him of why he moved to America in the first place. It served as hard evidence that his exhaustive efforts to establish a better life, an American life, had been successful, and so long as the Fernandez descendants had the farm, his legacy of tenacity would live on.
I realized the ranch was his love letter to America. In its affectionate text was a postscript, fondly denoting every opportunity that America had granted him.
There was never one summer spent at the ranch that my grandpa and I did not hang up the American Flag in preparation for Independence Day. It was our cherished tradition. I would cautiously retrieve the pristine flag from its own shelf in my grandfather’s grandiose oak closet, and carefully unwrap it from its neat triangle that my grandfather had folded with remarkable care at the end of each summer. I would marvel at its crisp edges, blazing white stars, and clean red stripes. I would watch as he tenderly hung the flag with his farm calloused hands to the top of a 25-foot oak pole at the edge of the neverending driveway where the flag could be seen from miles across the valley. My grandpa’s exceptional care for the flag professed how proud he was to be an American citizen; however, it was his trust in my ability to care for the flag that revealed his desire to pass on his colossal sense of American pride to me.
My grandfather’s unwavering pride and love for America taught me that no matter how far away I am, no matter what country I live in, and no matter how many oceans stand between, America will always be my home. For the loving memory of my grandfather, I believe in the power of the American Dream.