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Proud to be an American

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By Katie Pavlich
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

A recent Cornell University, University of Chicago and Hebrew University study showed that “a single exposure to a small American flag during deliberation about voting intentions prior to a general election led to significant and robust changes in participants' voting intentions, voting behavior, and political attitudes, all in the politically conservative direction.”

On the dirt road I grew up on, we fly big American flags, not just small ones.

A recent Pew poll showed only 40 percent of “Solid Liberals” are proud to be Americans. On the other end of the spectrum, 70 percent of “Steadfast Conservatives” or “Business Conservatives” said they were proud to be Americans. After reading this column, I think you'll see exactly where I stand.

I often get asked the question, “What makes you who you are?” My answer always points back to my heritage and where I come from. I'm Irish, German, Croatian and Australian, but most importantly, I'm an American.

I'm a Daughter of the American Revolution, which explains my strongly held pro-gun and anti-tax sentiments. James Forbush, my patriot relative, became a drummer in Massachusetts when the Colonists decided to break away from England and away from rule under a tyrannical king. That part of my family comes from my mother, whose parents eventually moved from Michigan to the deserts of Arizona, where she was raised with three brothers.

In the early 1900s, my family in Croatia scraped together just enough money to send one of eight kids to America. The strongest one was chosen. In 1910, my great-grandmother, whom we call “Baba,” landed on Ellis Island. She made her way to Lede, N.D., where she found a job in the gold mining industry. She met my great-grandfather, who also came from Croatia through Ellis Island, and they were married. Shortly after, they moved to Arizona in pursuit of work in the copper mines.

In Arizona, my great-grandparents had three children, who grew up to be extremely successful. My grandfather John Pavlich is in the Arizona coaching hall of fame. My great-aunt Meri Roby served as the associate athletic director at the University of Arizona for 30 years and has a building on campus in her name. My great-aunt Kay graduated as the valedictorian and homecoming queen at Northern Arizona University after getting kicked out of elementary school years earlier for not being able to speak English. After sitting in the back of the classroom without special treatment from the teacher, she not only learned, but succeeded academically and in life.

My grandfather John Pavlich fought in World War II, where he met my grandmother Merle in an Australian hospital after catching malaria. After marrying overseas, my grandparents came back to America, had two boys and adopted another. When my father grew up, he went to college and met my mother, which eventually led to me and a little brother.

In the year 2014, through hard work, perseverance, faith and dedication, I'm living my own American Dream, just as the generations before me did. Only in America are endless kinds of opportunity available for anyone to pursue should they choose to do so. Millions of families have stories similar to mine.

I love this country. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been born an American. God bless the United States of America, happy Independence Day and “thank you” to those who have fought for centuries to preserve the freedoms we hold dear.

Katie Pavlich is news editor of Her exclusive Trib columns appear the first and third Fridays of each month.

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