This I Believe

John - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on June 24, 2007

How American are you?

He takes off his helmet and wipes the sweat from his forehead. “I hope it’s quiet tonight, I need to catch up on my sleep” Khane whispered to his battle buddy. The sun begins to set and Khane lays down and shuts his eyes for a quick minute while his partner kept watch. He’s not allowed to take off his uniform or boots because his squad is on quick reaction force detail (QRF). A warm tingle went through his head as he felt himself falling asleep. An image of himself in his car with techno music playing begins to fade in. It’s been a long time since he heard music. The music in the dream grew louder and louder. Khane opened his eyes and snapped back to reality. The sound of the music became the sounds of mortars landing inside his camp. The sounds from the explosion of the mortars ripped the air with such tremendous force it made Khane’s teeth shiver. Like a mother instinctively grabbing her child, Khane jumps up and snatches up his flak vest and M-4 Carbine. “Second squad let’s go!!” a loud and thunderous voice echoed down the hall. Khane jumps in back of a HMMWV and pulled the charging handle back on his M-4, putting a 5.56 round in the chamber. Once again sleep with have to wait. “Four more months” Khane thought to himself.

That was just one of many stories from my brother while he was in Iraq as a United States solider. My brother was born in Thailand, but has lived in America almost all his life. He is currently serving as an infantryman for the United States Marine Corps. Because he was born outside United States soil and even though he is wearing the United States flag on his shoulder, he is still not considered a U.S citizen. My brother salutes flag as it rises and retreat everyday while American protester burns it because they are upset with our government. He stands up while the national anthem is playing while some American prefers to sit.

My brother is Laotian, Thai and Chinese. He has brown eyes and black hair. He is a Buddhist who goes to the temple and prays to Buddha. Lastly he was born in a land nowhere near America.

So that raises a question, what makes a “true” American? Is it the color of your skin? Is it your ethnic background? Is it your Religion? Is it where you were raised? Do you have to be born here? Or can you just pass a citizenship test and be just as American? I ask all these questions because a person from America knows that America is “melting pot” and America is a mixture of all kinds of people. But if you were to ask someone from the Middle East the same question, they’d probably tell you that all Americans are white and they are all Christians, everyone else just lives there.

I believe that being an American is more than just having the privilege in being born here. It is also a state of mind and a belief system one must possess. I feel that true Americans live by the same guidelines:

We all love this country. When we travel abroad we are proud to say that we are Americans. Because we know that we are blessed to live in the land of the free where you want be, practice any religion, and speak your mind without fear of prosecution. We try our best to make a positive impact for America, like voting the right people to run the country and obeying the laws of the land. When America or any other country is in a time need, that we will take a stand to defend and aid it to the best of our ability.

During the War to end all wars (World War I), William Tyler Page, who gave over sixty years of service in the United States capitol wrote The American’s Creed and it states “…it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag; And to defend it against all enemies.” I believe that my brother more than fulfils his responsibility as American; therefore he has the right to be recognized as a true American.