LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Multiculturalism, yesterday and today

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My, what a difference 80 years has made in the United States. Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s “The United States of Mexico?” (Commentary, Oct. 21) rightly laments the takeover of the Southwestern U.S. by the Spanish language and Latin American culture.

My parents emigrated separately from Germany. They learned English, met and married in New York City. When my father died, my mother moved us upstate. I was bilingual when I entered kindergarten. One day, a social worker visited my mother at home and asked that she stop speaking German with me because I spoke in school with a German accent. Well, my mother complied. My accent and my knowledge of German disappeared by the time I was 7. It took two years of high school German, a year in college and three years stationed in Frankfurt for me to regain fluency in the language.

I also had three years of high school Spanish, which served me well in the late 1940s as a teenager in Key West, Fla., and Havana. I didn’t learn any national anthems, but I can still sing traditional Spanish songs of Cuba (“La Paloma”) and Mexico (“Cielito Lindo” and “La Cucaracha”), as well as Christmas carols in English, Spanish and German.

Perhaps if I work on my Spanish, I’ll fit in the “new” United States.

GEORGE F. STEEG

Potomac Falls, Va.

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