COMMENTARY: Our Pilgrim’s pride

What has become of our Pilgrim’s pride? What has become of the quest for the emancipation of the human mind and heart and soul? What has become of us, who today listen to the decaying sound of our eroding heritage, tradition and legacy?

From the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in November 1620 to the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon on July 20, 1969, and in the time thereafter, human ingenuity, imagination and inspiration have changed the world we live in.

Neil Armstrong eloquently summed up our human endeavors when he famously said, as he set foot on the Moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” And like the landing on the moon, America’s new settlers set foot on a new land in 1620, destined to change the course of mankind.

We became a nation built on inspiration and perspiration — we believed in ourselves and our ideals and ideas, and we worked long and hard and unwavering in pursuit of our dreams and of our vision for our nation and the world.

Great men and great women have inspired and uplifted us in times of dejection and pessimism, while others have motivated us and moved us with their intellect, their empathy and their compassion. We are a nation of Pilgrims, one and all — explorers, adventures, dreamers — with our eyes lifted up toward the heavens, in search of purpose and of meaning, and our hearts and souls binding us one to the other in awe, wonder and astonishment at the brilliance of creation.

And it is at this time of year that we usually gather at the table to proclaim our thanksgiving for the bounties before us and for the harmony of our hearts and our convictions.

This Thanksgiving we will gather once again to celebrate the bounties before us, but not the harmony of our hearts, nor the conviction or certainty of our nation. When once we were called Pilgrims and dreamers, and people of goodwill, this Thanksgiving some of us are being called traitors, defectors, connivers and scum. When once this was the time to gather and hold hands in prayer and in unity, this Thanksgiving we are divided and alienated — American against American, America against the world. And we hear the alien and unfamiliar voice of hate and betrayal as it drowns out the words of hope, of truth and of dignity.

This is supposed to be the season of the gathering of hearts and of minds in celebration of the American dream and of the world’s messenger of peace and of hope. Instead, we are besieged by the duplicity and treachery of the human heart that has betrayed the pride, the dignity and the nobility of our heritage and our legacy. How sad the days have been, at hearing the hypocrisy and dishonesty, day in and day out, of those who would pretend to lead, and sustain the character and the conscience of our nation.

We are left to gather at our tables this Thanksgiving, to wonder what happened to our Pilgrim’s pride and to the courage and the greatness of those who landed at Plymouth Rock and those who set foot upon the moon. We were once courageous, strong, bold and prideful — so whatever happened to our Pilgrim’s pride, and to memories of Thanksgivings past that reflected our personal and our national pride?

Al Garcia lives in Palmview.