Letters to the Editor

My Flag of Gratitude idea has been greeted with ugliness

It is astonishing how much ugliness my simple idea detailed in the Aug. 7 article, Billionaire pitches proposal for massive flag over Miami, has gererated.

By ugliness I do not refer to the disagreement with an idea or a position, rather I mean hurtful ugliness to my offer to pay for the design, building and installation of what some called my “monstrous idea,” A Flag of Gratitude, in downtown Miami. It would be on a 450-foot-high flagpole, located behind AmericanAirlines Arena and would cost between $5 - $10 million.

Those who disagree have every right to do so. Maybe some misunderstood my motives. Maybe I didn’t explain well enough why I’m such a grateful citizen of our great country. So, let me explain.

Personally, I take very little for granted. Even simple things like our ability to turn on a faucet and expect water to flow from it, most people on earth do not have this benefit. Many born under our form of government take what we have for granted and simply do not understand how those of us who came from elsewhere cannot take that for granted. I don’t think our country is perfect, but is there a better form of government, a more generous people anywhere in the world?

The Flag of Gratitude that I would hope our city would support isn’t for me, born in Cuba, but on behalf of all who have been embraced by our great nation.

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I wish to say thank you on behalf of the Irish, English, Chileans, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italians, Romanians, Nigerians, South Africans, Mexicans, Venezuelans, Germans and, yes, the Pilgrims who preceded us. All these, and more, came looking for a better place, for freedom. I want to show our gratitude to these great United States from all its adopted sons and daughter. All of us.

A few who wrote suggested I should take my Cuban “back end” and build a flag there. Sir, this is my home, this is my country and I am not going back. Very similar to your ancestors who chose to stay, I, too, will stay.

A few called me an ungrateful egomaniac. Know that it was never my intention to ask for my name to be on this. Others told me my proposal was callous, and that any such dollars ought to go to health services, inner-city education, supporting those less fortunate. In fact, I have done all of these things, too.

This is my community, and this is my country, and I want to say, thank you. This country gave me opportunity, and no guaranteed results. That is the opportunity for all of us.

I don't know if this Flag of Gratitude will be built in Miami. Let me simply say to my country, our country: We are grateful to be your adopted sons and daughters.

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Michael B. Fernandez, Coral Gables

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