What is it to be an American? What does it mean? What makes one adhere to such a title? In this time of international detestation, contempt, and distrust towards the American people this is a question which is important to ask, and is equally important to answer.
Is being a citizen simply enough to classify one as an American? The answer is no, as the Constitution of the United States protects all of those who dwell with in the borders of the US regardless of citizenship.
“American” is a word which defines all of those within the borders if this great republic. It encompasses all of those who are the ancestors of the early colonists, all of those who were brought to this land under the shackles of slavery, all of those who are the descendants of native tribes, and all of those who have migrated here willingly in pursuit of a better life.
Despite this one singular designation, “American” we are not a nation of people, for a nation of people share common heritage, common language, and common religion. The United States is not, has never been, and shall never be a nation-state.
This, I think, is something that everyone who is American can take pride in; that we all hail from different and diverse backgrounds, we are of all religious faiths, we are all of our own personal beliefs, and we come from all countries.
Not in spite of these differences, but in pride because of them, we can embrace the future as one group of people, Americans who have compassion for their fellow Americans, Americans who share the same equal rights and privileges, and above all Americans who do not carry with them contempt for their fellow Americans. These are the things that the Constitution underscores.
Yes, it is true that Americans have fought amongst themselves in the past, and in the past they have committed extraordinary crimes, despicable things that are decidedly “un-American.” However, the past is the world of yesterday and of yesteryear. The past should be remembered and not ever forgotten, but it should also be left in the past, for if we cannot do that then we cannot embrace the future in and move forward through it.
The future is now; it is the world of today, and of this very instance. Will we move forth together in stride, or will we be cursed to wear the sins of the past on our sleeves and drive the wedges between us deeper still? For the sake of our selves, our children, and of all future generations, we must burn those sleeves and embrace the future together, as Americans, for our time, and for all time.
For the one value that decidedly defines the term “American” is that we are a diverse group of people, that we are a tolerant people, that we are not a nation of people, rather we are an assemblage of people who hail from all of the nations of the world, and from all faiths. That is what the term “American” truly means.