This question has been weighing on me for quite some time. While we were overseas, we were exposed to a multitude of cultures and nationalities but as soon as anyone found out we were American a certain awe overcame the group and there was always at least two people in the group that mentioned their family member(s) that were living in the US.
What struck me as odd and really kind of upset me were the number of people who claimed American citizenship but were clearly not American. This would irritate the fire out of me because I never understood how one could claim to be American when they had no idea what being American was ALL about.
But what makes an American? Am I more American than my husband because I have native American Indian blood pulsating through my veins? No, that’s not it. Is it because I know that deep seeded feeling of pride that rips through my body on the fourth of July? No, I don’t think that is it either.
But what is it?
Can you claim to be American if you are a first generation immigrant? What if you are second or third generation? What if your family has lived in America for 50 years, you don’t speak with an accent and you follow baseball but you still celebrate Diwali and eat curry every night? Are you less an American than I? I don’t know.
I find it sad that anyone would toss their heritage aside to claim they are someone/something else just for the status of it. It still irritates me that people that are clearly not American claim to be; but why?
What makes an American? I don’t know. Is it a feeling? Is it a knowledge that you are born with knowing that you belong here? Is it the feeling you get when you see the glorious and beautiful stars and stripes flying high above the ground that fills your heart with hope and pride? Is it because you know where the purple mountains are and have seen them and wept at the beauty of your country?
I don’t know. You tell me. What makes an American?