Happy 30th Freedomversary, Mom and Dad!

  
On January 9, 1986, my parents landed in the United States after a two-month stint in Italy following their escape from Soviet-occupied Lithuania in October 1985. 30 years later, they still love America more than ever before–despite malcontents in power positions trying to undermine her.

For this occasion, my sister and I wanted to surprise our parents with a gift they would cherish forever to mark this special occasion: lunch at a fancy waterfront near an airport (Reagan National) to give them a nostalgic reminder of how they arrived here–by plane. What better way to mark their arrival to the U.S. than this?

People get confused about our country of origin when we say Lithuania is our ancestral homeland. They think my sister and I were born abroad, when in fact, we were born stateside. (Fun fact:I was the first person in my immediate family to be born in the U.S.! I wear that as a tremendous badge of honor.) That makes my sister Anna Maria and I proud first-generation Americans!

I often share my family’s story to give others a sense of who I am. For without my family and my Lithuanian heritage, I wouldn’t be the young conservative activist and outdoor enthusiast I am today. My family’s struggles in the former USSR taught me many valuable lessons about appreciating faith, family, freedom, and free enterprise. They lived the socialist, Marxist nightmare many Democrats desire to implement here. They know firsthand America is the last beacon of freedom on earth.

My parents came to this country virtually penniless and with more limited English speaking capabilities. America was a strange new land for them. After picking up valuable skills, assimilating, settling in, and getting citizenship, they realized their potential and fulfilled the American dream. My dad owns a construction company, while my mom spent many years in corporate America working as a technological consultant. They are the best Americans I know. Imagine that–folks who lived behind the Iron Curtain to tell the tale AND become naturalized, red-blooded Americans? Only in America.

I’m proud of my legal immigrants parents and happily share their story. I wish more politicians would share these kinds of immigration stories instead of stories that appeal to crony capitalists and big government statists.

On this 30th Freedomversary celebration of my parents’ arrival to the United States, I want to reflect by thanking my wonderful parents–who’ve been married for nearly 34 years–for coming here and allowing us to be born here. We love you and will continue to cherish you forever!

xo,

Gabriella

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Always Be Grateful and Thankful

On the eve of Thanksgiving, let us use this occasion to show our continual thanks every day of the year.

Many Americans have lost sight of what it means to truly be thankful and grateful. I, for one, am grateful for my family, my friends, and my freedom. These are things to be cherished, and I hope you similarly have these things to cherish. One day is not enough to give and receive thanks. In fact, we should aspire to do this beyond Thanksgiving.

 “Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” –Ralph Marston

Pimp joy if you can. Spread happiness, not wealth. Give back through private means.
Here are several things to keep in mind this Thanksgiving and every day:

1) Be grateful to live in the U.S.

Given all the political and social turmoil our country is in, it’s certainly easy to put the blame on something to fit one’s narrative. The most popular scapegoat? The United States of America. Do you believe that the cards are stacked against you in America? (Maybe the government, not free enterprise, is holding you back and diminishing your potential to succeed.) Do you complain about America being an oppressor but still reap the benefits of living here? (Perhaps you fail to understand how good you have it here and the freedom afforded to you.) Do you feel entitled to things? (We tend to better appreciate things we earn over things given to us.) Perhaps this is cliché, but America is the last best hope in this world. Our Constitution gives us innumerable rights and privileges unseen throughout the world. If you live here, count your lucky stars. You will never be as empowered as you are here. (Thanks for legally immigrating to the U.S., mom and dad!)

2) Thank those who protect us on a daily basis

One of the important things Americans continue to gloss over is the fact that countless men and women –whether in the armed forces or those in law enforcement–protect us on a daily basis. A lot of them are demonized by those who are quick to paint broad strokes. While few bad individuals fall through the cracks, it’s important to remember that many people sacrifice their livelihoods each day, domestically and abroad, to keep us safe. Thank a vet or a cop if you see one. They are just like us–regardless of position in life.

3) Whatever family you have, BE GRATEFUL YOU HAVE THEM

No family is perfect. You may have political or personal disagreements with some relatives, but family is family. Love them or hate them, blood is thicker than water. Your family will come to your defense when you need it and least expect it. They will always be there for you. Alternatively, you should always be there for them. Love and cherish your family, however big or small it is!

4) Give thanks to god

If you are the praying or religious type, give thanks to God. Even if you’re not spiritual, continue to give thanks to a supreme higher being  beyond our control. The man upstairs certainly has your back–even when you least expect it.

 

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the company of loved ones and eat plenty of turkey.

What are you thankful for? Weigh in below!

New Townhall Column: Make Moral Case for Conservatism

I’ve penned a new article up at Townhall.com today. Below is an excerpt:

The quest to identify and unite behind a conservative leader for president has officially begun.

With 15 months ahead of the most consequential election in our lifetimes, 17 candidates are vying for our support. It is undeniable there are several candidates who stand out and truly represent consistent, principled conservatism. And no—blowhard billionaire Donald Trump isn’t one of them.

The candidate who has a proven record of standing up to the Washington machine, a firm understanding of our values, and proven leadership will and should become our nominee.

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Arthur Brooks has authored a new book that beautifully lays out how conservatives – especially the eventual Republican nominee—can make a moral case for conservatism in the public square.

Apparently, it’s been linked to Reddit? That’s pretty nifty.

Continue reading up at Townhall.com.

On SCOTUS and Marriage: Keep The Fight Alive

In light of SCOTUS’ ruling legalizing same-sex unions, or SSM, nationwide today, I will say this: I will still hold my view that marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve spent many years researching both sides, reading opposite views, and reaching a conclusion long ago that this is how I feel. No government or judicial decision will coerce me into changing my view on marriage. Neither should you. Does this mean I have malice towards those who hold an opposite view? Quite the contrary. Americans are free to believe whatever they want without fear of retribution. We should have mutual respect for our differing opinions while respectfully disagreeing. (Who knows when this mutual tolerance will be realized.) That’s a beautiful thing. Debate should be encouraged.

There are several things to reflect on moving forward: will religious liberty be respected? Will dissenting opinions still be respected or will the speech police silence us? Will churches be coerced into performing SSM against their will? Will businesses be shut down? Time will tell.

This decision illuminates how important and more successful we can be in advocating for civil society without government or quick legislative fixes. We need to have a coherent, thoughtful, fair discussion on marriage on the cultural front.

What say you? Agree? Disagree? Can both sides co-exist or will one ideology – that of our opponents- be shoved down our throats? Weigh in below!

Originally appeared on Facebook.

Assimilation Isn’t Criminal; It’s American

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The Washington Post published a mind-numbingly bizarre article on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal suggesting he’s not Indian anymore because he assimilated to the American way of life. Jindal, 44, is the 13th Republican to jump into the 2016  presidential race.

Here’s what WaPo wrote:

Jindal’s status as a conservative of color helped propel his meteoric rise in the Republican Party — from an early post in the George W. Bush administration to two terms in Congress and now a second term as Louisiana governor — and donors from Indian American groups fueled his first forays into politics. Yet many see him as a man who has spent a lifetime distancing himself from his Indian roots.

Here’s more:

As a child, he announced he wanted to go by the name Bobby, after a character in “The Brady Bunch.” He converted from Hinduism to Christianity as a teen and was later baptized a Catholic as a student at Brown University — making his devotion to Christianity a centerpiece of his public life. He and his wife were quick to say in a “60 Minutes” interview in 2009 that they do not observe many Indian traditions — although they had two wedding ceremonies, one Hindu and one Catholic. He said recently that he wants to be known simply as an American, not an Indian American.

“There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal,” said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who is writing a book on the governor.

“There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal.” WHAT??

Governor Jindal is Indian and always will be. I reckon he’s very proud of his heritage, as he should be. So what if he’s Catholic and has adopted an Americanized name?  That doesn’t make him any less Indian. He should be applauded for pursuing the American dream, honoring his family, and realizing his individual potential. Why can’t we just judge people on the content of their character and not their skin color?

Commentary Magazine brilliantly counters WaPo’s assertion that Jindal isn’t Indian enough:

Jindal, whose boilerplate stump speech focuses extensively on his parents’ backgrounds in India and the trials they endured in order to provide him with the opportunities that he made the best of in the United States, has committed what the left regards as the unforgivable sin of rejecting identity politics altogether. The Pelican State governor called those who preoccupy themselves with prejudging their fellow Americans based on their skin colors “dim-witted” and added that his family has refused to consider themselves “hyphenated Americans.”

“My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans,” the governor has said. “If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India. It’s not that they are embarrassed to be from India, they love India. But they came to America because they were looking for greater opportunity and freedom.”

What could possibly be wrong with assimilation? Everything, according to the Left.

Leftist logic suggest when people reject identity politics and don’t tow the line, they’re traitors who boast self-hatred. To them, playing off one’s race, gender, etc., is politically expedient and beneficial to to their cause. (Unfortunately for them, when their policies are implemented, they fail miserably and leave people worse off. Look at the former Soviet Union, Cuba, and other places ravaged by democide and cradle-to-grave government.)  If someone doesn’t subscribe to a leftist worldview, pejorative slurs and insults are hurled their way. So much for civility…

Why can’t we be individuals all the while revering our heritage? It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, European, Asian, African, etc. If someone wants to advance themselves as individuals, they should be celebrated–not demonized. We can’t stand for this demagoguery anymore.

I’m convinced the only immigrants our counterparts on the Left celebrate are those who come here illegally or those who don’t assimilate to the American way of life. If immigrants choose to assimilate, they are self-hating. Who less finds logic so contorted today?

Like millions first-generation Americans out there, I’m proud of my immigrant parents for assimilating to the American way of life. My parents came here in 1986 from Lithuania when it was still occupied by the Soviet Union. They came here virtually penniless with our relatives and feared for their lives in the process of fleeing Soviet rule. (They are grateful to have received political asylum.) Both my mom and my dad learned English, worked in their respective industries, launched businesses, and gave my sister and I a good life. Are my parents any less Lithuanian for becoming American? Hell no. My parents still retain their accents, customs, and Old World wisdom. It’s physically and biologically impossible to erase one’s heritage.  Though I’m American born, I can proudly tout my Lithuanian heritage all the while being American. Bobby Jindal touts his Indian heritage and is a proud American.  The values instilled in us by our families, regardless of our origin, are uniquely American. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Assimilation isn’t criminal; it’s American.

Agree? Disagree? Weigh in below.

Be Outraged By Big Government, Not the American Flag

It’s quite saddening the American flag has been the subject of intense scrutiny of late…First, students at a University of California campus near my hometown deemed the flag “offensive” and attempted to ban it (which has been unsuccessful, thankfully). Now, a Virginia photographer is receiving threats for photographing a picture of a Navy veteran holding his newborn child with a flag (it doesn’t appear to evoke or suggest any desecration of the flag, IMHO).

Yes, the Constitution protects free speech – even stupid speech – and people are within their right to criticize the flag – however, they will be (rightfully) subjected to criticism and publicly shamed for conduct or statements made about the flag that are unbecoming.

However, the lack of reverence for Old Glory today is troubling. People view it as a symbol of “nationalism,” “sexism,” and “imperialism” thanks to indoctrination in our schools. Hell, they revile it and even have a more positive view of the Soviet flag and other communist symbols. (Sigh.)

The American flag doesn’t simply comprise of stars and stripes or the colors red, white, and blue. It symbolizes freedom, sacrifice, and perseverance. It is a symbol of hope, of the triumph of good over evil, and of boundless opportunities. Millions of people have died for this country and for our right to express ourselves. If you have gripes with the flag or have qualms with the American way of life, North Korea and Russia will happily welcome you with open arms.

Want to be offended about something? Look at our government and how gargantuan it is. Legal plunder is disgusting; patriotism is not.

My two cents…

Crossposted from Facebook.

New Townhall Column: Concealed Carry Can Reduce Sexual Assault on Campus

I’ve penned a new column up at Townhall.com today titled, “Concealed Carry Can Reduce Sexual Assault at Universities.” Below is an excerpt:

In a time where sexual assault is on the rise at American universities, it’s important to curb this trend by effective means.

How can universities best address and eradicate the threat of sexual assault on campus? Allow concealed carry on campus.

Seven states–WyomingMontanaFloridaTexasIndianaNorth Dakota, and now South Dakota–are considering legislation to permit concealed carry at universities. As more Americans channel support for gun rights over gun control, legislation to repeal gun-free zones and permit concealed carry should be deliberated in more states.

Universities are gun-free zones, which make them prime targets for criminals. Evidence shows that gun-free zones don’t deter crime; they enable them. No sign will stop a criminal; a good guy/girl with a gun will.

When young women and men are allowed to practice concealed carry on campus, they-not administrators or bureaucrats–are in control of their own lives.

Continue reading at Townhall.com. 

Update:

My article was cross-posted at Free Republic and Students for Concealed Carry.

Update II:

Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America tweeted out my article, which was linked to Bullets First.