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She got a nasty note on her car for parking in a disabled spot. Her response is a vital read.

Not all disabilities are visible.

motherhood, disabled parking, culture, parenting

A nasty note gets a strong response.

We've all seen it while cruising for spots in a busy parking lot: A person parks their whip in a disabled spot, then they walk out of their car and look totally fine. It's enough to make you want to vomit out of anger, especially because you've been driving around for what feels like a million years trying to find a parking spot.

You're obviously not going to confront them about it because that's all sorts of uncomfortable, so you think of a better, way less ballsy approach: leaving a passive aggressive note on their car's windshield.

Satisfied, you walk back to your car feeling proud of yourself for telling that liar off and even more satisfied as you walk the additional 100 steps to get to the store from your lame parking spot all the way at the back of the lot. But did you ever stop and wonder if you told off the wrong person?



What if that person on the receiving end of the note had a perfectly good explanation for why they're driving car with a disabled sticker and tag?

That's exactly what happened to Emma Doherty, who was surprised to see someone pen such vitriolic words to her in this letter she found on her car.

The language in the note is pretty harsh:

"You lazy conning b-tch. You did not have a disabled person with you! These spaces are reserved for people who need them!!!"

I get that avoiding conflict is something that's been trained into us, but maybe if whoever wrote this note decided to say something to Emma, this entire thing could've been cleared up entirely.

Instead, she had to take to Facebook to pick apart the anonymous grouch and explain her situation to the rest of us. And hopefully whoever wrote the note (if they see her post) understands why they were terribly wrong.

Emma is the mother of a terminally ill child, Bobby. Her ruthless and powerful message sheds light on the misconceptions associated with disabilities and helps to break the stigma that all impairments are visible, because they're not.

"To the person who put this on my car, which I had put my disabled badge fully on, I'm not angry at your pure ignorance, I'm actually upset with it. How dare you ever accuse anyone of not needing a disabled badge without knowing. I wish you had the balls to say this to my face and I would have told you (even tho I don't need to explain myself to the likes of you) but I'd have happily said why I have a badge."

"I promise to get the stigma away from people with disabled badges who don't "look disabled." I hope this gets shared and back to you and you will see my son is terminally ill, he's had over 15 operations, 3 open hearts, 2 stomach, lung and diaphragm and countless artery stenting operations and spent half his life on intensive care."

respect, community, disabilities, visible disability

Emma Doherty and her son Bobby.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

In her post, she delineates the severity of Bobby's illness, which has put the young man through multiple surgeries and procedures that are no walks in the park.

"He's had 2 strokes and was paralyzed, brain damaged and has a spine and hip condition as well as a massive heart condition. The reason I didn't get his wheelchair out was because I was running late because my son, who had a MRI scan, CTSCAN and a dye for heart function yesterday, only got discharged late and was back in this morning so carried him in."

"But for your information not everyone who holds a blue badge needs to have a wheelchair! I've told ... security and broke down, I've sat through things nobody should see but why did your note break me? Because it's your pure ignorance towards others. I'm a single mom trying my best to hold it together for my son who's in and out if hospital. NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE and I hope you regret doing this and learn your lesson!”

Throughout her post, Emma simultaneously castigates the person and drives one important point home: Just because someone isn't in a wheelchair or crutches, doesn't mean they aren't disabled or in need of physical care or assistance.

I knew something would be said one day as every day I get looks and stares and see people whispering to each other about me and Bobby walking from the car. Everyone needs to stop and think before acting. I hardly ever let anything upset me but this did. How aggressive as well, and as for conning my son's disabled pass... [It] is not a con, he's actually seriously ill. I've added a picture of him to prove not everyone looks ill or disabled but can be seriously ill.

The mother clarifies at the end of the message that she's sure it wouldn't be a hospital staff member who wrote the message, because those who work in healthcare are well aware of the various reasons someone would have a disabled tag on their vehicle.

"I'd like to point out this has nothing to do with the hospital itself. They were lovely with me when I was upset and they treat us with every respect, always have [in our] 3 long years with them. They've saved my son's life many times. It [was] just somebody who was parked [there].”

Her post quickly went viral, with many people echoing her sentiments and thanking her for helping to clear up that tons of people suffer from different disabilities and that not all of them are so readily apparent.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

And as it turns out, Emma isn't the only parent who's dealt with judgmental individuals who gave them flack for having a disabled sticker on their car. As if having to deal with a sick child isn't enough, they also have to suffer through getting guff from randos on the street over a measly parking spot.

SOURCE: FACEBOOK

Bobby's condition has left him without pulmonary artery function, which means that blood will not pump throughout his body. As you can imagine, walking long distances — or performing many physical tasks otherwise healthy individuals take for granted — are out of the question for the 3-year-old.

As a result of her son's condition, Emma has to take him to the hospital for treatments throughout the week, and seeing the note on her car while having to deal with that ultimately set her off. Thankfully, she used her anger to send a positive message.

Floored by the positive response to her message, Emma went back online to thank people for being so receptive and helping to spread awareness that disabilities come in many forms.


"My inbox is full of people who have told me they have been stared at or even spat at. This is a serious problem and I just want it to change. I am hoping by sharing what I went through people will start to think before acting."



This article first appeared on 11.26.19.


Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Image from Facebook of Alexandra Dal.

People of color experience many types of subtle racism.



If we're being honest, we all make assumptions about other people, right?

We look at their skin, their clothes, and their car, and we make guesses about them that we don't even realize we're making. Everyone does it.

You ask a pregnant female coworker if she'll keep working after the baby is born — but you wouldn't think to ask that question of a guy who was about to become a dad.


You ask that nice girl behind the counter at the bagel shop whether she'll ever go to college so she can get a better job — only to learn that she's an underemployed Ph.D.

You ask a hipster-looking guy on the subway whether he's into artisanal pickles — but he just happens to be a bad dresser who has no idea what you're talking about.

The fact is, though, that people of color deal with other people's assumptions constantly.

Research shows that other people's expectations can have a profound effect on us. They can determine our success or failure. And black women deal with this nonsense more than others. In a recent study, nearly half of the female black and Latina scientists polled reported being mistaken for janitors or administrative staff.


Let's agree to fix this.

racism, comics, artist, Alexandra Dal

A comic created by Alexandra Dal on racial expectations.

Image from Facebook of Alexandra Dal.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.15

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Woman shocked to learn about the history of the English alphabet.

An eye-opening video on TikTok by @ZachDFilms3 is an excellent example of how language constantly evolves. In a video with over 900,000 views, he explains that the English language had a 27th letter a little more than 200 years ago.

ZachDFilms3 is popular on TikTok for creating videos that explain surprising facts about science and history.

In a video posted on March 6, he surprised many by revealing that the ampersand ( or "&") once came after the letter Z in the English alphabet. “This is an ampersand and believe it or not, it used to be the 27th letter in the alphabet. You see, back in the day, this symbol came after the letter Z and signified the word 'and,’" he shares in the video.

However, incorporating the letter into lessons for English-speaking kids was a problem.



“But when reciting the alphabet, students weren't allowed to just say 'and' after Z. Instead, they were taught to differentiate the symbol by saying 'per se' before it, which sounded something like this: Q R S T U V W X Y Z &. And 'per se &' ampersand."

@zachdfilms3

Why Highway Signs Are Green 🤨

The melding of the words “and per se” eventually led to the strange symbol called the “ampersand.” According to ON Words, other names for the symbol included ampazad and zumy-zan, but they failed to take hold with the general public.

It’s believed that the symbol got its name around 1835, but it ceased to be part of the English alphabet by the late 19th century.

The symbol dates back to over 1700 years ago when Roman scribes wrote in cursive and commonly used the Latin word “et,” which means “and.” So, the cursive combinations of the E and T together came to symbolize “and.” The symbol evolved over decades into the ampersand we know and love today.



These days, the ampersand is relegated to informal English and is mainly used as an abbreviation or in the names of businesses (AT&T, US News & World Report) or partnerships (Simon & Garfunkel, Jacoby & Meyers). However, it’s doing far better than the 5 other letters ditched from the original Old English alphabet recorded in 1011 by the monk Byrhtferð.

In the original Old English alphabet, there were 29 letters, which included the ampersand and 5 additional English letters: Long S (ſ), Eth (Ð and ð), Thorn (þ), Wynn (ƿ) and Ash (ᚫ; later Æ and æ). During that time, 3 new letters were added: J, U and W.

So whenever people get stuffy about new slang that they are using or changes in style or grammar, remind them that language is ever-evolving and that what we accept as standard today may be archaic in just a few decades. As the writer Rita Mae Brown once remarked, "Language is the roadmap of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going." So, when a language becomes static, it’s safe to say that those who use it have failed to evolve as well.

Joy

Comedian shares what cats would say if they could talk and it's hilariously accurate

"I just threw up in the bedroom if you want to go and sort that out…"

Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

Cats are quirky, comedic creatures.

Despite the fact that they only speak in purrs, meows, and other cat sounds, cats do communicate with humans. They have their "I'm so cute, don't you want to feed me?" face. There's their "I will not be ignored" shenanigans when they want your attention and their side-eyes of disdain when they don't. They sleep all day in the most random places only to wake you with their thunderpaws romping through the house at 2:00 a.m., and they flat-out refuse to acknowledge your existence in public.

Cats may not speak English—or any human language, for that matter—but what if they could? British comedian Jake Lambert shared a viral cat-to-English translation video imagining what they'd say, and it's hilariously spot on.


"Wake up! I'm hungry and bored and want attention! Hellooooo," he calls from outside the bedroom door.

"I am shattered," he says next, yawning. "I was up all night trying to wake you up! Anyway, I'm gonna go sleep in a really impractical spot for about five hours, see you in a bit."

Every scenario is one cat owners have experienced at least once, but most likely live with on a semi-daily basis.

Watch:

People found Lambert's interpretations to be 100% accurate.

"My cats are demanding royalties for the script, 😂" wrote one commenter.

"Hahahaha the zero second warning between happy and absolutely raging," wrote another.

"Cats are such great teachers," quipped another. "Right now I'm taking a PhD in getting rejected and respecting boundaries (just not my own) 😆🐈⬛."

"Have watched this about 5 times since yesterday and laugh out loud every time especially the ear scratch bliss to hiss 😹 this is why cats scare me 😂," offered another.

Other people offered their own additions to the cat conversation:

"You missed ‘I really like this food you should buy it again’ closely followed by ‘I hate this food, why would you ever consider buying it?’"

"Plus dramatically gagging over the same thing he chowed down on the previous day. 😂"

"This would be my cat: *enters living room meowing and a waft of crap follows* 'Just did a dump in my litter tray, can you clean it asap so I can do another in 5 minutes?'"

"Also: 'please change my menu at least 3 times in each feeding as I’m not sure what I’ll fancy.'"

"All correct, together with the standing by the front (or back) door undecided on whether he wants to be inside or outside of the house. 🤦"

Cat comedy never gets old, and it's delightful to know that house cats are the same quirky, mysterious, goofy companions no matter what country their owners live in.

You can follow Jake Lambert on Instagram.

More

11 fascinating facts—and one myth—about the American flag that you probably didn't know

Did you know this famous symbol of freedom came from a B- school project?

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

There's a whole lot of story behind the American flag.

The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner — whatever you call it, the United States flag is one of the most recognizable symbols on Earth.

As famous as it is, there's still a lot you might not know about our shining symbol of freedom. For instance, did you know that on some flags, the stars used to point in different directions? Or that there used to be more than 13 stripes? How about a gut-check on all those star-spangled swimsuits you see popping up in stores around the Fourth of July?

We'll explore these topics and more in this fun list of 12 facts about the U.S. flag that you might not know about.


1. Betsy Ross, the woman often credited with sewing the first American flag, probably didn't — or at the very least, there's no proof that she did.

Legend has it that in 1776, a seamstress named Betsy Ross was approached in her shop by George Washington himself and was asked to help develop a flag for this soon-to-be-nation. Supposedly, she rejected the designs Washington presented to her and made a number of suggestions that would end up in the final version of the first American flag.

It's a great story that humanizes Washington as a man humble enough to take feedback and gives Ross a boost as being uncharacteristically assertive for a woman in 18th-century America.

But the bad news is that this probably never happened. It was nearly 100 years before anybody spoke of Betsy Ross or her role in designing the flag. Most of what we know of this story came from her grandson, William Canby.

Unfortunately, though historians have long tried to verify any of the facts involved in Canby's story, there's nothing to suggest that Washington set out to commission a flag in 1776. In fact, it wasn't until 1777 that Congress even passed a resolution ordering a flag to be made. Sure, it's possible that Camby's account of his grandmother's story happened, but it's more likely that this is simply an unverifiable piece of American lore.

2. It wasn't until 1912 that the government standardized the proportions of the flag and the arrangement of its stars.

While most countries's flags are rectangular, there are a few exceptions. In 1912, President Taft issued an executive order creating a uniform look for the flag — as prior to that, there were some interesting designs, with multiple flags sometimes in use simultaneously.

The executive order mandated that stars on the flag point upward, all in the same direction, and be placed in six horizontal rows of eight.

3. We all know the flag has 13 stripes, but for 23 years, it had 15.

Up until 1795, the flag had one stripe and one star for each of the 13 states. After Vermont and Kentucky were added to the union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, the flag was due for its first major redesign in the country's history. Not only were two stars added to the blue field to represent the new states (a tradition that continues to this day), but designers also added two stripes.

The 15-star, 15-stripe flag existed from 1795 until 1818, when five more states were added. Designers realized that adding more stripes would quickly become unwieldy, so they dropped the stripe count back to 13.

Kentucky, Vermont, American flag, Union, 1795

After Kentucky and Vermont joined the union 2 stripes and stars were added to the flag.

www.gettysburgflag.com

4. We still honor the 15-star, 15-stripe flag today, as it's the specific flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The outcast of all American flags lives on through the power of song. Key wrote "Defence of Fort M'Henry," a poem about his experience watching from the Baltimore harbor as an American fort took fire from British troops during the War of 1812. In 1916, more than 100 years after its first publication, Key's poem became our national anthem.

5. Yes, the Flag Code is the law. No, there's no penalty for breaking it.

The U.S. Flag Code was signed into law by President Roosevelt on June 22, 1942. While it's filed under Title 18 of the U.S. Code ("Crimes and Criminal Procedure"), the Flag Code exists as more of an etiquette guide than anything else.

So if you leave your flag up past sundown, that's technically illegal — but no one's going to arrest you for it.

6. When it comes to showing respect for the flag, there are 11 specific instructions to follow.

There's a whole section of the U.S. Flag Code on how to show respect for the flag. Since this is a topic that gets discussed quite a bit lately, it's worth a quick review of some of the highlights:

  • Unless you're trying to signal distress "in instances of extreme danger to life or property," you shouldn't display it with the union (the field of blue with white stars) facing downward.
  • The flag should never touch the floor and should never be carried horizontally or flat, but "always aloft and free."
  • You're not supposed to wear the flag nor print its image on "anything that is designed for temporary use" (napkins, for example). Don't use it in advertisements, either.
  • "No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform."

7. You're supposed to fly the flag on Christmas.

The Code says that "the flag should be displayed on all days," but puts special emphasis on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Easter, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon), Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The Code adds that states should display the U.S. flag on the anniversary of their admission to the union, on state holidays, and on any day observed by presidential proclamation.

8. If the U.S. ever adds a 51st state, the flag won't be updated until the following Independence Day.

The flag won't be getting any major redesigns in the near future, save for the addition of a star here and there. The Code reads:

"On the admission of a new State into the Union one star shall be added to the union of the flag; and such addition shall take effect on the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission."

9. Flag Day dates back to the 1880s but wasn't made an official U.S. holiday until 1949.

It's thought that schoolteacher Bernard J. Cigrand was the first person to celebrate Flag Day, commemorating the 108th anniversary of the 1777 Flag Resolution (which outlined the flag's basic design) on June 14, 1885. The tradition caught on among schools and, eventually, states.

In 1916, President Wilson established Flag Day through proclamation. In 1949, Congress passed and President Truman signed a bill making the holiday official.

10. The design for the current 50-star flag came from a high school student's U.S. history project — which initially got a B-.

In 1958, Bob Heft was a junior in high school. In a 2009 interview with StoryCorps, Heft recounted what happened when he turned in a history project featuring a 50-star flag. Heft's teacher gave him a B-, noting that he had the wrong number of stars on the flag (at the time, there were only 48 states).

When Heft expressed disappointment, his teacher said, "If you don't like the grade, get it accepted in Washington, then come back and see me."

After Alaska and Hawaii became states, the U.S. adopted Heft's flag. He got a call from President Eisenhower and, more importantly, an updated grade on his project.

11. The Pledge of Allegiance was, in part, created as a gimmick to sell U.S. flags to schools.

The pledge's history is fascinating and filled with controversy. Many know that it wasn't until 1954 that the words "under God" were added to the pledge in response to the Red Scare, but what's less discussed is the origin and purpose of the pledge itself.

Socialist minister Francis Bellamy penned the original pledge for an 1892 issue of The Youth's Companion as a way to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' journey. The magazine offered U.S. flags to subscribers, and Bellamy and the magazine lobbied public schools to adopt his pledge as a show of patriotism. It was successful, too, selling tens of thousands of new subscriptions and flags. In hindsight, it's a bit ironic that this lasting ode to America began as a socialist's capitalist experiment.

12. No one is sure why we chose red, white, and blue as the color of our flag, but an explanation was made retroactively.

In 1782, Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson explained the significance of the colors red, white, and blue during the design of the official seal of the U.S.:

“The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valour, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice."

Ever since, we've just gone with that.


This article originally appeared on 4.3.16

Photo collage created from Pixabay

Some different perspectives on the American experience.

Some 300 million people live in the United States. And over 40 million of them are immigrants.

Now, some people might have you believe that too many immigrants might cause us to lose our identity as Americans or that we ought to be fighting and clinging to "the way things were."

But if you look around, you'll see that more than 1 in 10 Americans were born somewhere else — meaning they have their own unique set of amazing experiences to share and their own amazing stories about why they're here.


They each have their own ideas about what being an American means to them, too. And they each have their own reasons for celebrating American independence on the Fourth of July.

So if you want to feel proud, excited, and maybe even a teensy bit emotional about being an American, this one's for you.

Meet five immigrants from all over the country (and all over the world!) who are showing their American pride in many, many shades of red, white, and blue this year.

Mexican American experience, traditional, celebration

Traditional food the celebrate the Fourth of July.

Photo by Chad Montano on Unsplash

1. Nayeli Ruvalcaba's Fourth of July is full of traditional Mexican food and mariachi music.

Ruvalcaba, who was born in Mexico but moved to Chicago when she was 4, spent her early childhood in a mostly caucasian neighborhood called Lakeview. There, she says the Fourth of July was pretty much what you'd expect.

"Everyone would be making ribs and burgers and mac and cheese. And my dad would be drinking Budweisers and Coors Light," she said with a laugh.

Nayeli with her parents.

But when she was 16, she moved to a more diverse area of the city filled with families from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Poland.

There, she says, their holidays are much more vibrant. Neighbors gather in the alleys and share their customs and cultures with one another. They sing along with music (her boyfriend, who is in a mariachi band, often gets the party going). They play games. And then there's the food: Nayeli says she loves to chow down on delicious Fourth of July dishes like arrachera (a Mexican skirt steak), polish sausage, guacamole, and, of course, burgers.

"I know it's an American holiday," she says. "Buteveryone has their own culture. You just mix it in with what everyoneelse does."

Nayeli and her boyfriend in full mariachi get-up!

watermelon, English tea, mishmash of culture

Celebrating with a U.K. twist on the Fourth of July.

Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash

2. Johanna Dodd and her family celebrate their Fourth of July the "old fashioned way" but with a small U.K.-based twist.

A one-year work contract for her husband brought the Dodds to Connecticut from the U.K. years ago. 12 years later, they're still here.

The Dodds!

On their Fourth of July, she says, "We tend to do what everyone else in town does. We'll head to the fireworks display with our cooler packed full of food, and, occasionally, we'll sneak in some alcohol."

Sounds pretty American to me!

Johanna's young daughter watches the fireworks.

"The kids run around, there's lots of glow sticks, lots of football (both kinds) being played, lots of fun stuff happening. As it gets darker, there's the national anthem, and then out come the fireworks."

But there is one slightly British twist to the Dodds' holiday: "We don't really do the tailgating thing. We bring what we would call 'an English tea.' There's watermelon, yogurts, cheese sandwiches. Kind of a mishmash of both cultures."

grilling, fish, Liberia, American experience

Bringing home country traditions to the American experience.

Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash

3. Martin Matthews says he never misses a Fourth of July parade and for a powerful reason.

Matthews was 8 years old when he first came to America to escape a civil war in his home country of Liberia. One of his first memories? A huge Fourth of July parade in New Jersey.

"I had never seen anything like that. The flags, the drums, everything. I remember watching in awe."

Martin with his wife.

He returned to Africa later on but came back to live in America again when fighting broke out in his home country. And when he returned, that big parade stuck in his memory.

"I always loved that about America. It was a place I could be safe. A place I could enjoy freedom," he said. "To celebrate the independence of the United States holds a deep place in my heart."

These days, Martin is big on having barbecues with friends to celebrate Independence Day. There are a lot of burgers and hot dogs, but he'll sometimes mix in traditional African dishes, too, like African-style kabobs, to introduce his friends to his heritage.

"It's a big thing in Africa for people to put fish on the grill, like the whole fish," he added. "You put the whole thing on there. It was the first time some of my American friends had ever tried fish on the grill that wasn't salmon."

But his favorite thing about the holiday is still the parades. "We get there early and wave our American flags. Every year I always wear some kind of American shirt. We sit there and watch everything. It's my way of saying thanks to my adopted country."

cricket, India, celebrating holiday, University of Michigan

Changing the rules to make it work.

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

4. Jay Pockyarath mixes cricket with an American-style barbecue on Independence Day.

"Ever since I was in eighth grade, all I wanted to do was come to the United States," he told Upworthy. After finishing college in India, he finally got the chance when studying nuclear medicine at the University of Michigan. From there, he married an American woman and started a family.

"The thing that works [in America] is that it's a meritocracy," Pockyarath said. "July Fourth is a celebration of that, in my mind. Of independence. Of the freedom to succeed."

Jay, who was born in India, proudly flies an American flag outside his home for July Fourth.

Pockyarath has lived in the United States for over 40 years, so it's no surprise that his holiday celebration looks pretty familiar: steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs on the grill. To him, what's really important is spending time with family.

"Usually we make up games," he laughed. "We play cricket — not the way it's supposed to be played, but with a tennis ball. We make up our own rules."

American flag, Fourth of July, friends and family, decorating

Embracing the traditions and bringing your own flare to it.

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash

5. Natalia Paruz is originally from Israel, and she decorates everything in red, white, and blue.

Natalia is now a musician in New York City.

"First I came here with my parents [about 20 years ago] for a year. At the end of the year, they went back to Israel, and I wanted to stay here," she told Upworthy.

Now she works as a musician in New York City. And she absolutely, positively loves the Fourth of July.

"It's a really fun day. It's a day where you can put politics aside. It's a day for celebrating the joy of this country."

Natalia and her husband host friends every year for a big meal. "I love decorating the house for the holiday with the flags. There's always a big flag hanging from the flagpole. In the back, that's where I really go all out. Every tree gets some kind of decoration!"

"We make hot dogs, hamburgers — how can you not?" she said. "We also make tahini, which is a traditional Israeli food. It's made of sesame seeds and it becomes a paste and you spread it on pita bread. Our friends here love it."

Natalia says an overabundance of food "as if you're going to entertain a bunch of soldiers" is a nod to her Israeli roots.

This year, she's going out with friends to watch fireworks. "I wear a T-shirt that has an American flag on it and a bracelet with the colors of the flag. If you're celebrating, you might as well go to the maximum."

It turns out, celebrating America means different things to different people. And that's kind of the point.

In my mind, the only thing better than a Fourth of July party filled with burgers, steaks, beer, and fireworks is a Fourth of July party filled with all of those things plus Mexican food and African music and "English tea" and tahini and mariachi bands and more.

So whether we choose to embrace the "American way" of celebrating Independence Day (red meat and fireworks) or to use it as a chance to celebrate the unique melting pot of culture that is our country today or something in between, I think we can all agree that the America we have now is already pretty great.

This article originally appeared on 07.01.16