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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Why not a parade and celebration of our country’s diversity?

Posted on 10 September 2018 by Calvin

By JAN WILLMS
Retired mechanical engineer Peter Truitt, a Hamline Midway resident, has been concerned about the recent immigration policy of this country.

“For the last two months, the issues in the news in respect to immigration and the issues of families at the border have troubled me,” Truitt said.

“I have mixed feelings about immigration,” he said. “I don’t think it should be open-ended as some people think, but the fact that people are being treated in the manner they are is something we don’t need to do. We can do better.”

“Most importantly,” he continued, “ I think once people come to our country, it is vital for those people to be welcomed and to integrate. That’s what has made our country really what it is.”

So instead of just feeling bad about the way immigration policy is developing, Truitt decided to take action. He found that Moveon.org had a place on its website for petitions.

Photo right: Hamline Midway resident Peter Truitt proposed a parade and celebration of our country’s diversity. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Truitt created a petition. “About 10 minutes after I was thinking about it, I put it online and hit the enter button, and there it went,” he explained.

His idea is to have a parade, an immigration parade and celebration. It would start at the State Capitol and go down to the new soccer stadium.

“What I mentioned in the petition was to do it powwow style, basically having a Native American powwow at the head,” he said. He admitted that he is not so sure he would write the petition in quite the same way if he were to do it again.

“I think it should have been a little less precise,” Truitt said, “and I should have left it more as a celebration of immigration. In addition to its being a celebration and parade, I stipulated where it started and ended, and I dictated it should be like a powwow.”

Truitt said he did not think those were bad ideas, but he thinks there are a lot of potential approaches that could be even better. “And it is wrong for me, not being a Native American, to stipulate that it’s going to be a powwow,” he noted.

“I could only hope that Native Americans would be first in line and direct the event,” Truitt said. “That would be my first wish. But I shouldn’t be making those assumptions; it’s not fair.”’

Truitt said he did receive over 60 names on his petition. “I advertised it on Facebook, and I sent email, but I’m not that well connected,” he said.

He said he had attended several powwows, and generally, he considers them welcoming events. “They have a grand entry, which is sort of a parade,” he noted. “The elders come in first, and people in the military, then other elders and members of their tribe, then other tribes are welcomed. All come successively, and then it is open to the general public.”

He said the primary reason for his idea is to welcome new immigrants but also to bring a real visual picture of what immigration has looked like over the years because he feels it has been very different for different groups. “Especially for American Blacks, coming as slaves,” he added. “So in a sense, this parade would be a combination of a re-enactment that demonstrates both joyousness and troubles.”

This attempt at creating a parade and celebration has been Truitt’s first real experience at activism. “I have helped some political parties, and I have done some door knocking to get out the vote and written letters to newspapers. My wife was a mentor to some Hmong women some time ago,” he said. “I thought it would be a great idea to get some Hmong to attend a powwow, but that never happened. Perhaps it has happened naturally by now.”

Truitt said he has not yet spoken directly to Native American leaders about his idea, and he is concerned whether they would think his idea a good thing.

“I did not get as much response as I thought I would, so I am letting the petition sit and waiting for some other ideas,” Truitt said. “I am a believer of getting an idea out, as crazy as it might be, because it often stimulates some other ideas. That comes from my training as a mechanical designer. We would get a lot of wild ideas, but if you don’t put them out there, you don’t get improvements. Maybe this will generate some better idea, whether it be a parade or something else.”

“I could keep pushing this along, but I need to meet face-to-face with some people,” he said. “Right now I am busy, but after November I think time will be more available. It’s not the sort of thing I have done in the past, so I need a lot of help.”

“The event will have a lot of potential for action.’

Truitt questioned why this had not been done before. “We certainly have individual celebrations, one at a time, but that does not necessarily bring us all together.”

Truitt said he had done some traveling, to Mexico and the Philippines and a couple of other places in Asia. “I am quite convinced we are all the same species. I run into the same sort of human interactions with people everywhere I go, good people and people who I find myself angry with. One group is not better than the next.”

“There are some cultural differences,” Truitt stated, “but in the end, we are all the same species. I think we have to work harder; it could be that our survival depends on it.”

“I wonder what was being preached from the pulpits in the 1930s in Germany,” Truitt mused. “And I wonder what they wished they had preached.”
Truitt is not giving up on his idea. He said that as well as talking to individuals, he hopes to contact some organizations.

“We are always talking about being a nation of immigrants,” he said. “So why not celebrate that?”

 

 

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