The photo portrays poignancy. The artifact of this distrust being the American flag. The emotion and memories behind the photograph stem from the experiences of my ancestors, their struggles and failures, luck and victories, now only a story. The meaning of the American flag has been changing since it's very creation in 1777. For my grandfather, Miki, the flag was the embodiment of refuge. America, a place for new beginnings, limitless possibilities, as long as you believe. It was the place for lovers of hope and students of hard work. A land where everyone was created equal, given freely the right to pursue happiness. For my Saba, my grandfather, America was justice. Barely seventeen, he set off to America leaving the despicable horror of what was left of Nazi Germany as a surviving Jewish teenager just liberated from Buchenwald. America welcomed him with her strong arms and smile, whispering "good luck."
Saba built a life for himself, learning exactly how to live opposite to a victim. Rising up with strength. America was good to him. And she was to many. What we need now is to be good for all. It seems to me that it's not our most recent years that have been so pivotal. America was never what it said. She lied to her suitors, feeding them hope when all she had was luck and bias, keeping the agonizing truth sealed into her red and blue lips. "Land of the free, home of the brave." How is this possible when over ten percent of America is food insecure? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." What truths do women have? What can we grasp? "We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Where is there honor? I see the fortunes funneling deeper and deeper to the top one percent. There are small children imprisoned at the spiked borders, metallic with fear. Our brothers and sisters of color marching in the streets and it's called rioting? Our basic reproductive rights being questioned? Our political system so divided over two white men, our police shooting when we are asleep, our country physically turning upside down from the drastic changes in our climate, children diving under desks at school for their lives, the anti-Semitic attacks filling our newspapers. Ask yourself: what does this flag now represent? How can we reclaim it, not just symbolically, but literally? How can we reclaim our America that we've lost to fear and hatred? We must remind her, show her, teach her that love is love, that trans lives matter, that people of color matter, that immigration camps are inhumane. We must spotlight our climate crisis, repair our hope, and reestablish our pride. As a fourteen-year-old little Jewish girl living in California, I hope to one day see an America that has achieved true justice for all. One that my grandfather and all my other ancestors can be proud of as well. And that one day, I can fly an American flag, understanding finally what true pride feels like.