To the editor: 

On Aug. 28 I had a letter in the Empire-Tribune about voting and it seems to have upset at least one person. 

On Sept. 16 I read the article on "Embrace the hyphen-American" and was astounded to say the least. My career for 50-plus years as a design engineer put me in contact with many different people of all races. Most citizens of the USA but some not and I only had issues with a few and it wasn't about race. 

A few friends called me about the "hyphen-American" article and were also taken aback by the author's lack of understanding. Let me tell you a story that caused me to use the term that he took offense to.

In the 19502 I was in junior high school and a family from China came to our town. They had lived on the west coast till they earned their citizenship papers. Mr. Chan and his wife opened a restaurant, first of its kind in our area, authentic Chinese food and it was very good. 

Their son Lee was my age and we became close friends, sometimes after classes we would walk to the family restaurant. His parents wanted to know all about his day, they spoke broken English and were trying to learn more and they, in turn, tried to teach me Chinese. 

One day one of the people that worked for them made a comment about them being "Chinese-American.” Mr. Chan calmly spoke up and said "We are of Chinese descent but we are American first."

I never forgot him saying that and I have several other friends over the years that feel this same way. They include friends from Thailand, Puerto Rico, Mexico, England, India, Africa, Israel, Italy, Brazil, and Germany just to name a few. They all will tell you that they are American first, period. In my view, my use of the term hyphen-American in my article was bastardized by this author in order to fit a politically correct agenda.

What my letter to the editor on Aug 28 was talking about was let's start working together and not let intentional division of the different origins of our countrymen divide us. 

However, the author of the Sept. 16 article said it was stated in a "pejorative manner.”

How that conclusion was derived I'll never know. But I will say I feel sorry for those that distort things to fit their personal view of how this nation should address and communicate with its citizens of various heritages.


Charles Richard Bragg,