I think it is way too trite to say that anyone simply born in the USA is “an American”. I was born in Chicago, but that does not mean I am a Chicagoan anymore than being in my garage makes me a car. I have not embraced all of the wonderful sites, sounds, and movement in that city.
An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Welsh, Swiss, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan. An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as Native Americans.
An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses. An American is also free to believe in no religion.
An American is the sum and substance of his / her background, culture, ethnicity, beliefs, ceremonies, experiences, and whatever else one wants to include in the definition. Unlike countries, and cultures that have centuries of “being”, America is only 232 years old if we base that solely on when the Declaration of Independence was created. (If we go from when it was ratified, we are younger by 11 years!)
I think an American is generous, and a reflection of the human spirit of freedom. An American appreciates hard work, inventiveness, doers, thinkers, and philosophers. An American is moved by her National Anthem, and America the Beautiful, and other songs of patriotism. This is not different from a Welshman or woman being moved when they hear their National Anthem, or when a Frenchman or woman hears theirs. I do get choked up when I hear God Bless America, and I feel good when I hear Lee Greeenwood’s I Am Proud To Be An American.
I don’t always love what people do to others in America, but I am a sap for some things about my country. And America is my country with all its faults, frailties, and difficulties. I will always do what I was taught to do when the American flag is being raised or lowered. I stop, put my hand over my heart and wait until the process is over. It reminds me that I, along with others, am grateful for being here.
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