Dear Friends of LIFA:
Some of my Progressive friends wonder why I love the United States of America so much. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me say:
This picture of Shirley MacLaine entering the Pan Am airplane, my last employer, is an example of one of the reasons. I had other amazing employers such as KTLA-5, and NBC-4 in Burbank, Ca. which I would have never left, but I needed wings to be able to travel frequently to see my parents in Central America.
The Pan Am experience was amazing. Our New York employer was unparalleled in the world of international flying by any airline in history, no matter how hard they tried. A dream come true for most of us who enjoy people, flying, and traveling the world. We saw beautiful countries, extraordinary people in the airplane and in the cities where we stayed at magnificent hotels! For all of its imagination, Hollywood desecrates and cheapens our experience when they attempt to depict what it was like.
And most crew members were foreign born, legal immigrants. Our employer flew to most of the world and needed Flight Attendants that could communicate with the passengers. Whether they hired in the USA or overseas, everyone was a legal Resident Alien, a naturalized citizen or a multilingual American born.
Can you imagine anything more exciting than meeting the best of every nation on every flight? We rarely flew with the same crew. Crew members from countries we stayed in would suggest the best places to visit for food and shopping.
There is no doubt in my mind that my fellow legal aliens also had to sign that they would not become a burden to the American taxpayer, and never were.
The American born Flight Attendants were also sophisticated, worldly, intelligent, and classy. Did we have divisions? Never! Pan Am hired white, black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ, and we loved being in each other’s company. Part of our joyful moments stem from the fact that we all enjoyed being who we were. In fact, we got hired to be exactly that!
Because Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan America World Airways, was very patriotic, his airline personnel had to act as Ambassadors of the United States of America. Called to represent our country, the United States of America with dignity, class, and grace. We were trained to follow a strict Code of Ethics and etiquette during flight and during our layovers in foreign countries. If we didn’t, we could expect to be fired upon our arrival at home.
Our First-Class cabin would carry VIP’s: Secretaries of State, government officers, foreign princes, movie actors, and more. They were to be treated equally well and their privacy guarded with the utmost care. You were expected to be friendly but if you disturbed a celebrity for an autograph, that might very well be your last trip as a Pan Am employee.
Pan Am was compassionate. A tragedy somewhere in the world, meant our 747 would be stuffed with supplies and medicine for the unfortunate. If Americans had to be withdrawn from a war-torn country, such as Viet Nam or Iran, our 747 would be full of Americans with the pilots permitting people to seat as many in a row as possible, on the floor if necessary, for we were “not leaving anyone behind”. The patriotic stories would bring tears to most people’s eyes! The crew members would volunteer to help. Good Pan Am people.
Can I say more? Did my experience transform me? Yes! In this, I can only speak for myself. I learned to love my adopted country, to love to help people, to love law and order. I learned that the United States of America is unique.
My country of birth, Nicaragua, that went Communist, now has more in common with other dysfunctional countries in our hemisphere on how they treat their citizens, and each other than they do with the USA. Finally, I learned why everyone wants to come to America and do not blame them. But I also learned that coming legally is the only way. There is no reason for good people to come any other way. Respecting our government’s laws is both biblical and logical.
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