This I Believe

BJ - cumberland, Maryland
Entered on December 3, 2006

I believe that it is ok to be a plain, old, un-hypenated American. It’s not a popular belief right now. Americans have caused a lot of harm in the world and we are starting to be held accountable.

It is more fashionable to be other nation-hypenated-American. The hypen says to others: “My people were put down when they came here, I am not the bad American–“They” are.

As a kid, I ate supposedly German family foods on holidays to stay in touch with ‘my heritage’ When I was a young adult, I would go to Celtic festivals, because I had a Welsh grandmother. I was hunting for my special hyphen.

I met my fiance three years ago. He is a first generation American, his parents came from Germany in the 1960s. He tried to teach me German language, Spanish proved easier. He cooked German foods, Italian was more my style. If I have a German last name, shouldn’t something be familiar to me? Shouldn’t it feel like home?

That is when I understood, I am a plain old American, and that American is a vaild cultural identity. I had let myself forget what the American Cultural Identity is: the melting pot.

I can go the the Celtic Festival, and then out for sushi afterwards. I can shop in a store for a sari and wear it if I like, or jeans and t-shirts if I choose.

As an American, with an American Cultural Identity, I believe that there is no They. I believe I should experience the different foods, clothes, music, literature and languages that go on around me. As an American, the customs of all the world are a part of my culture, too.

It is ok to say that I am a proud American. I am proud of the strength, beauty, wisdom and perserverance from every culture of the world that has sent its people to become American.

This I believe.