Throughout the U.S., people have been focused on respect for the American flag, but it has also had a lot of them concerned about the people who have long paid their dues to the red, white and blue. There are people who still do not understand that Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria left catastrophic damage, has full rights to the kind of help residents were afforded in Texas after Harvey.
When talking about the U.S., you have to acknowledge Puerto Rico. The Caribbean island of about 3.5 million people is very much part of the nation. It has been ever since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898.
The U.S. has other territories such as Guam, American Samoa, the northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other smaller islands. They aren't states, but they aren't foreign countries either.
You may often hear Puerto Rico referred to as a commonwealth. Technically, Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Pennsylvania also boast the commonwealth title.
Historians are not totally sure why. They believe that writers of the time just liked how it sounded, so they included it in legislation. The designation is definitely friendlier than "territory," right?
Puerto Rico is not a state, but people born there are U.S. citizens. They can travel to and from the U.S., work here and they pay federal taxes. They are also eligible for federal aid.
Hurricane Maria could not have struck Puerto Rico at a worse time. The government of Puerto Rico had declared bankruptcy in May with almost $75 billion in debt. Much of that sum is borrowed from Wall Street banks.
Between hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico lost airports, cell phone towers, farms, roads and power grids. The island nation's electricity company has a debt load of $9 billion.
The per capita income in Puerto Rico is $18,000, which is close to half of what is earned in the poorest American state.
President Donald Trump plans to visit Puerto Rico next week. People there hope more aid will follow, but you don't have to sit by and watch them suffer. First Lady of Puerto Rico Beatriz Rosselló has set up the Unidos por Puerto Rico fund. As we witnessed in Texas following Harvey, there's a lot of power when we all chip in.