- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A word of warning to all you jaded, politically correct readers out there: This op-ed piece is not for you. Go read the New York Times.

This piece is written by a grateful immigrant. A legal one, but an immigrant nonetheless.

I was born in Haifa, Israel.

I emigrated to America with my mother, Florence, when I was a child. My mother was a survivor of the Nazi Germany concentration camps of World War II. She was in the camps when she was 14 years old.

If it weren’t for America and the brave sacrifices of its military, my mother and millions of others would have perished.

After the war, my mother found her way to Israel.

Life was hard, but in Israel - finally - there was a place where people didn’t try to kill you just because of your religious persuasion. You could breathe fresh, free air and not be afraid to say “I’m a Jew.”

When I was 8 1/2 years old, my mother took me by the hand, and we emigrated to America. The land of the free. The home of the brave. The land of hopes and dreams.

When we landed in New York, I was simply awed by the majesty that is America. The skyscrapers. Television. Streets full of cars. It was too much to take in all at once.

I soon became an unabashed, unapologetic, dyed-in-the-wool American who believes in standing at attention when the Stars and Strips flies at full mast. To this day, I proudly say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem. And I am ashamed when some natural-born citizens of America don’t.

That last phrase makes some native-born Americans uneasy. Being patriotic has become politically incorrect. I refuse to succumb to a numb apathy that seems to pervade some elements of the media and pop culture.

For me, it’s all too real. If it weren’t for America, my mother wouldn’t be alive. If it weren’t for America, this world would be in chaos.

Too politically simplistic, you say? Too black-and-white?

Actually, it’s profoundly true, and it’s time for all Americans to proudly recognize those facts.

I want to be blunt about a message to America:

In the Middle East, you have no greater friend, no greater ally - than Israel. It owes its very existence to America.

A simple political message?

I stand by every word of it.

Op-ed pieces from immigrants in newspapers and statements on television are a good idea. Listen to what we have to say. Hear the gratitude and love for America we all share.

Wake up to what we all have to say: America is the greatest country on Earth.

And finally, thank you for making a poor immigrant boy’s dreams come true.

Gene Simmons is a media mogul and frontman of the rock band Kiss, the juggernaut of all music licensing and merchandise entities. He is head of his own label, Simmons/Universal Records and has the longest- running celebrity reality show, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.”

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