A Real American

A Real American

A Real American

I was eight years old when I first set foot on American soil. I remember the airport in the dead of winter. I remember women and children, some of them barefoot, waiting for… something, sitting with their meager belongings on the Arrivals floor. They were probably refugees, but I don’t know.

Photo courtesy of: the newyorkologist

I remember the taxi ride to my aunt’s one-bedroom apartment, where we were going to stay until we found a place of our own. I tried not to sleep because everything was so new and different, and my dad whispered excitedly that we were in America now, but the street lights looked like they were covered in cobwebs and everything was blurry as I nodded off.

I remember my first day of school. Everyone spoke English. I did not. There was no ESL class, and I tried to understand as much as I could, but I knew about five English words. I was discouraged because very few kids would play with me, but my dad said that we were in America now and that things would improve for us very soon.

I also remember the first time I entered a supermarket and how amazed I was at its size! There were no empty shelves. No rationing. We could buy what we wanted as long as we had the money.

We didn’t.

I ate a lot of chicken, rice, and potatoes back then. Sometimes we had raisins as a treat. My mom splurged on cereal every so often, because I’d never tasted it before. I didn’t even taste potato chips until I was 10 years old or so. We couldn’t afford much back then, but my dad was thrilled that we were in America, because we had all those choices!


Yeah, our furniture, bed sheets, and clothing came from other people’s trash, and so did my toys. My dad would go out at night and find stuff on the neighborhood curbs to bring home. Sometimes it was an old piece of furniture, once it was an old black and white TV that was about the size of the laptop I have now, and sometimes it was a toy for me. But my dad – an engineer with two Masters degrees – wasn’t ashamed to be picking through items others discarded. He fixed them, so we had a place to sit and a TV to watch, and we had blankets to sleep under, so all was good. And he was thrilled, because we were in America, and we had more than we ever had in the country of my birth.

And no – we never got welfare. We never sponged off the US taxpayers. This was a matter of pride for my parents. They wanted to make it on their own.

I was 11 when my parents bought their first house – a duplex in a suburb. They both learned enough English to get engineering jobs and saved enough for a down payment. My dad was SO proud, because the house was his, and because he bought it with his own earnings and no one’s help.

I was around 12 years old when I did something stupid – a friend and I got caught shoplifting from a local department store. It wasn’t because I was lacking in anything, but because I wanted to know what it felt like to wear something frivolous for once in my life, and my parents were still scrimping and saving, so there were no silly extras like a microwave or a VCR or cable.

They called our parents to take us home, and after a few hours of ostensibly thinking about what he was going to say to me, my dad sat me down and told me that I had stained the family name, that the entire time we were in the US, he had struggled for his honor to show that we deserved to be in this country that gave us so many opportunities, and that the reason we never accepted government assistance was because we needed to earn the freedom America offered. I had sullied that, and he was ashamed.

I will never forget that day.


I was 16 when my parents took me to a courthouse to take my citizenship oath. I remember coming home, feeling different – feeling special somehow, because I was an American.

I was 22 when I picked up the phone and called my parents from MEPS to tell them that I had enlisted in the Army. They were shocked, because I had graduated from one of America’s top universities, and they expected either grad school or a job with some top financial investment firm. I told them this was what I always intended to do, because I was grateful to America for giving me that choice and the opportunities I never had “over there.”

I was 23 when I stepped off the bus at my basic training battalion after five days at Ft. Jackson reception. “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood was playing on a loudspeaker, Drill Sergeants were running around screaming in our faces, and I teared up – not because I was scared, but because I loved every minute of it. Not once did I question my decision to enlist. I knew why I was there.

I was 30 when the planes hit the towers. I cried along with everyone else and worried about my friends who worked at the Pentagon. A while later, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I reenlisted after a break in service. I’ve been working in a national security capacity ever since. I never regretted this choice. Ever. I know why I’m here.

I was 40-something when several frothing, boorish, racist swine followers of a fairly well known Internet “personality,” writer, and publisher told me I wasn’t a “real” American, because I could never understand our values, because I was a foreigner. And claiming to be such merely because I believed in American values was folly, according to their worldview.

I reacted as only I could. Use your imaginations.

America is not just a country with borders. America is an ideal. America is what other nations – despite their loud protestations – strive to be. America is principle, pride, independence, opportunity, achievement, and strength of character. Allowing immigrants to enter, assimilate, work, and contribute to our society does not weaken us. On the contrary, it gives us the advantage of experiences that other – more monochromatic – nations may not have. It gives us strength, because these immigrants have sometimes endured unimaginable horrors and have come out better on the other side, and they are willing to use that strength and perseverance to make this nation and our society better and more powerful. These people, who abandon everything they know to start from scratch, have a much deeper appreciation for America than many who were privileged enough to have been born and raised here, and who have never known empty store shelves, who have always had indoor plumbing, and who have never felt neither persecution based on their skin color or faith, nor hungry bellies. These people have a deep appreciation for the concept of liberty, because they have experienced life without freedoms, without opportunities, and without the ability to achieve.

These are people who waded through months and sometimes of years of bureaucratic red tape to be allowed to legally enter the Promised Land. They knew it was worth it.

Some of them are military vets who put their lives on the line and pledged their sacred honor to defend this nation – not for any financial or educational benefits, but because they were so grateful to be here.

These people are real Americans. I am a real American.

And every time the national anthem plays, I tear up with pride for my nation.

Happy Independence Day.

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

  • Scott says:

    Well said Marta!! and while I’d never claim to speak for others, I for one am proud to call you an American! As you point out, we’d be a much better nation if more people born here had your respect and zeal for her!

    Happy 4th of July!

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      ((hugs)) Scott. Thank you, and happy Independence Day! May we keep our Republic for a good, long time.

  • MarkInKansas says:

    Thank you for sharing your life. It’s a wonderful reminder why the idea of America still matters, why we must remain a nation where we can achieve what we work to accomplish.

    I want the achievers working right beside me to help keep that idea alive.

  • iowaan says:

    Yes, you are a real American.

  • Merle says:

    I’m glad you hung in there and made it thru OK.

  • Cheri Crockett says:

    My maternal grandparents fled Armenia during the Genocide. My Grandfather always told us just what you said that natural born Americans do not appreciate what we have. The proudest day of his life was when my grandfather, Sarki s (George) Sarafian, became an American citizen!!

    • Scott says:

      Would that be the genocide by turkish muslims that the UN and the left says didn’t happen?

      Yeah, one more reason to kick that useless bunch out of the US.. and very gad your family made it here Cheri!

  • Kathy says:

    Proud to read your writings, American Marta. While I was fortunate enough to be born on this side of the border to a family of many generations in this country, many friends were not so fortunate. We were all poor together and proud of our country. You described it so well.

  • Tom Knighton says:

    I’d rather have one Marta than a thousand of that “personality’s” minions.


  • Philadelphia Freedom says:

    Hell yea it is about ready to sound like a battlefield as darkness approaches. A nice walkabout is in order to enjoy it.
    The sounds of victorious American guns are represented by the fireworks and we don’t fear Bolshevik rats or their media presstitutes.
    If we can get through eight years of the Manchurian rat known as Hussein Hopenchange than anything is possible to M.A.G.A.

    • Scott says:

      Yeah, sadly, no fireworks around here this year.. already have 8 major fires going in the state, don’t need more… But hopefully in the fall / winter, when things get wet, we’ll make up for it! I’ve got some tannerite just itching to go boom!

  • deimos says:

    My wife was born in another country and after she took the oath of allegiance and got her citizenship papers I asked her how she wanted to celebrate. She gave me a grin and said “Let’s go to the gun store”. It’s a great country and thank you for being part of the grand mosaic.

  • Beege Welborn says:

    And aren’t WE lucky to have you.

    Damn straight we are.

  • Kate says:

    You’re one of the most American persons I know. ❤️

  • DJ says:

    More like this one, please.
    Many more.

    You understand America much better than many I know who were born here.
    And I am very glad that people who feel as you do legally come to America’s shores, and stay.

  • JC says:

    Caio, sister. Glad to have you in the family.

  • cthulhu says:

    Happy Independence Day and Welcome Home Again. You can be born in a thousand places and be meant for one. Hold our hands and give thanks that we live in a cantankerous land of God-given rights….sewn up in an enduring Compact to defend them, “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

  • Fergus says:

    Sounds like what my parents had to go through. America needs people who want to be Americans. We have too many privileged “born here” Americans who neither love nor understand America. We would all gain if these people left to make room for those who wish to achieve the American dream.

    • Scott says:

      Well said Fergus. Problem is that the left has infiltrated our school systems very effectively, and have been using them as indoctrination centers for decades. You can’t really blame the youngest of the snowflakes for not knowing any better, since it’s all they’ve ever been taught… now their parents, that’s a whole different thing..

  • Maureen Guichard says:

    Thank you for your service and sharing your story, Marta.

  • Ironemike says:

    You stole that plot line from Pinocchio!

  • GWB says:

    Happy Independence Day, Marta!
    I’m glad you’re a part of US.

  • Chris Lindsey says:

    Thank you for your post, and thank you for your service to our country.

  • OldStockAmerican says:

    No America is not an “ideal” and it’s not about “achievement” nor is it about “opportunities” yours or ANY other persons. As much as you don’t like to hear it or believe it, because you have been brainwashed by the left for so long not everyone can or should be able to claim to be an Americans.

    America was started by a distinct group of people, so why are earth do you believe that just anyone gets to claim the their identity? This is the part that you REALLY hate, America was started by White Anglo Saxon and Dutch colonists – White people. Later when the Founders and decided that they needed more people to grow their newly formed nation they were extremely picky about the kind of people that were allowed to immigrate here. They chose ONLY to allow people from western European contries to immigrate to America. There’s a reason for this. Because of a little thing called culture and keeping the nation homogenous, because it works. The Founders understood that other people did not (and still do not) live the same way we do, do not believe in the same things, and culturally are not at all compatible. It is OUR choice to make and it’s ONLY when you are referring to White people and White identity that suddenly people like you decide that if we do not move over and share what WE built with you that we are “racists.” It’s perfectly fine for Asians to not open their door to Hispanics, Africans, and Arabs because they are not culturally compatible and the same is true of Hispanics who do not allow immigration from MANY other countries because of cultural differences and it’s effects on the cohesion of the citizenry. But that’s NOT OK for White people from Europe OR America.

    For over 200 years of our 242 years (until 1965) America was a majority White country. It was our belief systems and culture that established this nation based on our shared experiences, traditions, history, and beliefs. Yes, White people do have a culture. Yes we ARE unique in our societies. And just like Arabs, Asians, Africans, Hispanics, and Jews we have a right to have a home of our own.

    • GWB says:

      Hoo boy. America has never been “blood and soil” – except maybe for some of the Indians.
      Shoo, son, before a real troll comes along and hurts you.

    • Nicki says:

      Awwww. Poor baby. I know you’re probably sad that you got flecks of dick chowder all over your crusty photo of der Fuhrer because you were spanking your minuscule pud too hard to the dulcet tones of his speeches in your mom’s basement last night, and your local Home Depot ran out of tiki torches for your next march of flabby dozens. It probably smarts that your mommy won’t mend your worn nazi flag again, and that others with skin that may be a shade darker than yours, faith that might not worship your exact sky elf, or plumbing that might be an innie instead of an outie is more successful, stronger, and more literate than you.

      I know you probably have indigestion because you ingested too many Cheetos and tin foil.

      But really… no one here is impressed with your spew. Also, I doubt anyone censored you, but you sure do need that narrative to support the “poor, victimized, white me” claim. And besides, we all are too entertained by your sad little attempt at coherent communication. Shitstains like you provide minutes of cheap entertainment, and we all sometimes need a laugh at bigots’ expense.

      This is well-deserved opprobrium, dick cheese. Now back to the basement with you!

  • OldStockAmerican says:

    Pathetic, don’t like truth so you censor it, right?
    That doesn’t make it go away and the (((evil))) will not succeed in taking our lands from us.

    • Kate says:

      No one is censoring you, OldStockAmerican. You’ve had the freedom to sound quite bigoted and racist in your comments, no?

      I will say I have been able to pick out a small bit of meat in an otherwise very bone-ish rant. It’s true that many other nations do not have as open a immigration policy as we but here’s the rub… and it’s gonna sting like the dickens… that phrase on the Statue of Liberty that came to represent our own nation-building immigration policy for 150 years, “Give me your tired, and poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” wasn’t about just white folk. It was any folk. We opened our arms, and yes, our opportunities, to anybody. You and your “but white people!” philosophy is going nowhere.

    • Kate says:

      And one more thing: it is a privilege to be an American, no matter if by birth or choice. White privilege doesn’t exist. Stop perpetuating the lies of the left.

  • Doug Purdie says:

    Damn right you are a real American! At every baseball game, when the sun is shining and the flag is waving and the anthem is playing I too get choked up. But, what really gets to me is hearing about people like yourself who come here and so appreciate this idea of America that you undertake the hard work of earning your citizenship. I’m choking up now just writing this.
    I am a privileged child, not because of my skin color, but because I only had to be born to be a citizen. I, unlike you, never had to earn it.
    Thank You for coming here. Thank You for staying here and making this great country even greater. God bless you.

    • GWB says:

      I will agree with your statement about “privilege”, Doug! “White Privilege” is bulloney, but “American Privilege” is very real! I’ve always acknowledged mine.
      (Of course, it’s also nothing I’ve ever been ashamed of.)

  • Sam L. says:

    I recall reading a report of a Russian pilot who defected with his MiG. He was taken to a supermarket, and was blown away by how much was there. He also got a tour of a Navy carrier, and was amazed that enlisted men were doing what only officers were trusted to do on Soviet ships.

    • GWB says:

      About the enlisted: it’s always been one of our greatest military strengths. It’s part of the American Exceptionalism – we’re all* pioneers, ready to make do with what’s to hand and take charge of the moment.
      (* Well, we all used to be. Nowadays there’s an awful lot of serfs wandering the land, looking for a noble to serve.)

      • Scott says:

        There’s some truth to that GWB, though if you look back at officers manuals, between the Civil War, and WW I…they were, umm, less than complimentary towards enlisted. Though that obviously changes significantly in the years following..

  • Deoxy says:

    Sadly, I think racist morons will always be with us – people always want something or someone else to blame for their own failings, an “in” group that others can’t join.

    But if this were the primary picture of immigrants (instead of the perpetual illegal mess, and all the politics that goes with that), I honestly think there would be a lot less of it.

    Stories like yours are why I find the intentional conflation of “immigrant” and “illegal immigrant” by certain parties so offensive. You are *exactly* the kind of person we want to join us here!

    And I say that without knowing your country of origin or your skin color.

    Welcome (obviously many years late), and thank you for joining us.

  • Wyldkat says:

    One branch of my family has been here since before we were a nation. Another branch goes back to native people of the south east. Yeah, I’m American by birth. But I have noticed in my 5 decades that many of the Americans who understand what our Fore Fathers were fighting for are those like you, Sarah, Kate, and Nicki – people who are American by choice, not by birth. To those I say “Welcome Home”.

    • GWB says:

      It’s a “renewal of the blood” sort of thing. As some lose the attitudes necessary for our vitality, others come in and refresh it.
      And I agree with “Welcome Home!” 🙂

  • Darren says:

    Gawd,I love stories like this.

  • GWB says:

    Pertinent to your story, Marta, there’s an AP story making the rounds about the Army supposedly kicking out immigrants trying to earn their citizenship.

    Thing is, it’s just not as the headline tries to sell it. The folks quoted never even started Boot, and the whole thing was hashed up when 0bama tried to tie it to DACA. (What? You’re not surprised it happened under 0bama? You cynic.)

    So, if you are conservative outrage over this, point them to actual facts, instead of overwrought and manipulative headlines.
    (h/t Instapundit, Ace, and Twitchy)

  • Bill says:

    Hi, Marta! Thank you so much for sharing your story! You make it more hopeful for those of us who wonder about the future of this country, and the so-called patriots who sometimes are voted into office despite our best efforts!

    I’m curious about something, though; what got you into military sci-fi….and, do you have any favorite authors/series to share? I’m a big fan of that, as well – I just finished reading the “Black Jack Geary” series for the umphteenth time!! 🙂 Do you recognize that name?

    Best regards…and thanks for being here in America!

    • GWB says:

      Love that series. 🙂

    • Hi, Bill – I do know the series, but I’ve had precious little time to read anything other than work related stuff, so I haven’t. I have a list of books on my Kindle that I will probably never finish in this lifetime, but they’re there. That’s the first step of the battle, I suppose.

      My science fiction journey started when my mom gave me a bunch of Bradbury and Asimov to read as a kid, which made me want to travel to Mars. For a while there, I really wanted to become an astronaut.

      Then, I got to know some really outstanding military sci-fi authors like Mike Williamson, Tom Kratman, and John Ringo, and they introduced me to the mil sci-fi genre. I’ve been a fan of the Freehold series forever. If you haven’t read that, you definitely should. Also David Weber and David Drake. And I fell in love with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers early on because of the ideas.

      I heard Marko Kloos was really good too, but like with many, I haven’t gotten to it yet.

      And if you haven’t read Mike Williamson’s “Soft Casualty” in the Freehold universe, OMG – you really really should! I love psyop stories!


      • Scott says:

        Dammit, now you all are gonna add to my backlog of books to read… the first quasi military sci-fi I got into, back in high school was the Horseclans series, by Robert Adams. only 10-15 of them, but I like em… now the Dragon Lance series, started as back story novels for Dungeons and Dragons expansion… at first they were written by a pair of authors, but later ones were done by other writers. They’re mostly in trilogies, or in some cases up to 6 in a series, but the whole line has nearly 200 books.. talk about never finishing..

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