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A Smithsonian Hispanic Museum?

September 25, 2016

The United States is predominantly a nation of immigrants, starting with Jamestown in 1610 and Plymouth in 1620. We are, in effect, “Statue of Liberty” people, with the exception of two major groups who cannot identify with the Statue of Liberty. They are the African Americans (they were brought here as slaves) and the Native Americans (they were already here.) Appropriately, we now have two Smithsonian Museums on the Mall in Washington DC recognizing the significant and unique roles these two groups have in our history that includes so much tragedy in their stories. A Congressman has introduced a bill to add a Hispanic Museum with the implication that it is “their turn.”

It is neither feasible nor necessary to start adding museums on the Mall to recognize the many Statue of Liberty groups of immigrants. They are already being recognized in numerous special museums around the country, from the Plimouth Plantation and Jamestown Settlements (that are living history parks) to the Zwaanendael (Dutch) Museum in Lewes, Delaware, the German-American Heritage Museum in Washington, DC, the Museum for Chinese in America in Manhattan, New York City, or the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts, to name only a few. There are numerous Hispanic Museums in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Florida, and California, for example. As a stamp collector, I don’t consider it insignificant that the Post Office has over the years issued special commemorative stamps for several immigrant groups – the Irish, the French Huguenots, the Norse, the Swedish, even the German Turners, and as well, the Jamestown Settlers and the Pilgrims.  Each is also represented in my stamp album.

We have much work to do, however, to erase the bigotry so prevalent in America today that still prevents the Statue of Liberty from being meaningful for so many within our country.

Loren Bullock
September 24, 2016

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