Community Columns

Commentary | Lots to celebrate in diverse Modesto

National Night Out celebration at West Side Park in Modesto in 2015
National Night Out celebration at West Side Park in Modesto in 2015

On St. Patrick’s Day, I found myself thinking about heritage. My genealogy is a mix of Irish, English, Swedish, Dutch and more. My father traced our family ties to England, but my sons and I tend to cling to our Irish roots. Must be the corned beef.

Everyone who landed on these shores at one point certainly was not American. America was an idea, one that has endured challenges, growing pains, a Civil War, World Wars and the Cold War.

As I enjoyed a peaceful, sunny St. Patrick’s Day in Modesto, I found myself wondering ... how much do we take for granted?

We live in a city with small-town agricultural roots that has transformed into a major city with a large population and a much bigger footprint. Modesto now has some big-city problems that once we only saw in the news. This might be where we get lost.

Modesto is a city with many ethnicities, religions, heritages and traditions. Every day we strive to come together. Sometimes we come up short, so there is work still to be done.

After the tragedy in Christchurch, New Zealand, we must remind ourselves that we have more in common than we think. We live near each other, shop in many of the same stores, use the same roads, our children share the same schools, and all faiths are free to worship in peace.

We are truly part of America’s great melting pot. We don’t live peacefully by accident. We fought wars to have this right. The civil rights and women’s rights movements were hard-fought battles that were necessary to help Americans realize their freedom, and not have government decide how or where we live.

So somewhere between St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, let’s cherish this city and our country. Our different cultures and faiths have endured. There are always flaws to this great experiment, but we choose to live in America.

Near the midway point between March 17 and May 5, consider joining your fellow citizens for Love Modesto on April 13. What better way to celebrate diversity than working side by side for our community?

You could also take in a show at our renowned Gallo Center for the Arts. From Voz De Mando to Up With People, from We Shall Overcome or the Irish Rovers to the Blues Brothers, you can experience our different heritages and cultures, and celebrate being Americans ... together.

Let’s remember why we are all here, and celebrate it. It is our common belief in freedom, democracy, family and country that brings us together.

There’s a reason Modesto’s National Night Out is one of the highest attended in the country. We want to know each other, celebrate each other and make our community stronger, safer and unified by finding our commonalities.

Shut down all the national rhetoric long enough to understand and befriend our fellow man. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

David Boring is president and creative director of Never Boring Design in Modesto. He wrote this commentary for The Modesto Bee.