Where Do Americans Go?
“Wear the Stars and Stripes” and “Overheard in the National Art Gallery” brings us to modern times and the situation of Puerto Rican autonomy under American rule. Although somewhat mitigated by the efforts of Luis Muñoz Rivera, American citizenship was imposed on Puerto Ricans.
The United States Congress proceeded to enact a military draft during World War I, bringing approximately 18,000 Puerto Ricans into actual service. Echoing the sentiments of freed slaves following the American Civil War, “fighting for one’s country” allowed the marginalized Puerto Ricans to make the claim of blood and sweat in exchange for their acceptance into the American paradigm.
Puerto Ricans have been a part of, and serving a country that has not allowed them the distinction of self-determination and has continued to treat them as outsiders. Both American and yet foreign, Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans continue to endure a distinctive experience within the context of what it means to be American.
When someone (out of anger or ignorance) says “Go back where you came from!” where is an American supposed to go, if not to America?