How is an American
For example, "How is a cow"? "She walks, she talks, she's full of chalk, the lacteal fluid extracted from the female of the bovine species is highly prolific to the nth degree."
In this case, I believe nonsensical fits, oh so very well.
But the title of this musing contains the challenge of investigating those "things" that give an American the right and privilege to announce him/her self as an American.
I am always happy to announce that I am...by accident of birth, an American citizen and by the grace of God a southerner. There is humor here, but there is also truth. The first step to being an American is to be a citizen. We will put the "how" to become a citizen aside for a later discussion.
If you were born in this country, you will find few that argue you were fortunate indeed. To be born here is one of the luckiest things that can happen to a human on this planet. There are other countries that can provide life styles similar to ours in government, wealth and freedom. None reach the level available in the US.
Birth only provides automatic citizenship, it does not make an American. Here is my list of things that help breed US citizens into American citizens. I can not do all the things in my list but I am working on it.
1. Attend grammar, middle and high schools in the US.
While in school;
Place your right hand over your heart, face the flag and repeat the pledge of allegiance to the American flag EVERY day.
Learn how to fold, display and respect the American flag. Know that the American Flag is not just a nation's ensign. It is also used to signal distress. It is used to cover the caskets of veterans during internment ceremonies. This use of the flag is its most sacred chore and deserves the highest level of respect by those present. The Amrican flag may be the most recognized flag on the planet and there are no circumstances under which this flag is lowered for another. To fail to show respect for the National Anthem and the American Flag for the purpose of advancing a personal or political agenda is inappropriate and diminishes the quality of American citizenship.
Although hard to sing, always sing the National Anthem as it was written at events where all should join in. The National Anthem is not a composition of music that should be toyed with in any way. Recent music and Hollywood stars have made the Star Spangle Banner the object of Hip Hop and demographic cultural music renderings. None of which show respect for, or understanding of, the history that made this music our anthem.Render unto teachers the respect of self-discipline.
Focus on your classes that instruct you in the history of our nation both the good and the bad. This will be most difficult because a class in civics is seldom taught in today's schools. You can not do this if you are unwilling to listen to a point of view that is dramatically, emotionally and philosophically apposed to everything you hold in lifelong reverence. In this country, speech is an unrestricted right except where the speech can cause physical or mental damage or cause injury those or loss of property.
Memorize the preamble to the Constitution.
Know and understand the Bill of Rights.
2. Join the Boy or Girl Scouting experience. Regardless of where you live, be able to tie a Bowline, a half hitch, a sheepshank and a square knot.
3. Spend two years of your life in service to your country. (Military, Peace Corps, Remote Teacher, etc)
4. Prepare yourself for College or a Trade. Do not drop out!
5. Stay away from drugs.
6. Go to church and decide for yourself how an organized religion fits into your life. Know the Lords Prayer and the Nicene Creed. The object here is not to commit to a religion but to see how man, with the use of language, can worship an idea and promise to be good.
7. Do your best to find and join a person, an idea or an organization in which your personal interest must come second or third to the interest of the joined group.
8. Travel to the specter that is the US National Park System. The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Yellow Stone, Crater Lake, Mount Zion, Hovenweep and East Glacier. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway from end to end. Visit every museum on the mall in Washington, DC. Visit the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials.
9. Know the names of the Americans who wrote: The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers. Take your time and read these documents cover to cover and understand what you read. You can never really understand America until you understand what makes it all happen
10. Understand that in this country an oath of office does not define fealty to a person or even a nation. Our fealty, if that is a good word, is to the Constitution of the United States. Our collective fealty is to an idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For US office holders: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. Be able to articulate the difference between a democracy and a republic. Understand, in your best intelect possible, the genius , the perspiscacity and their writing skills that came together to produce the longest living document that defines the steps to obtain, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
11. Name the Capitals of all 50 states. Be able to tell what states border each other. If you do not understand the geography of our nation and the world, you will never understand world history nor current events.
13. Most of all, take justifiable pride in the history and the uniqueness of our nation. Regardless of the chatter, there is no place like this nation under any star. Know this stuff and get in the face of those who would denigrate or apologize for America's history. Our history has moments of blackness, but it is also filled with monumental acts of kindness, bravery, sacrifice, emotion and philanthropy.
BE VISIBLY PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN. There are billions who would change places with you in an eye flash.
Some other thoughts from a male American.
Learn how to cook and clean up.
Know how to sharpen and use a pocket knife.
Learn how to swim and help someone who can not.
Know how to build a fire in the rain.
Go to a church or Scout summer camp.
Learn to shoot a bow and arrow and a fire arm.Make as many friends as you can, but treasure the one or two with whom you can share almost anything.
Learn how to make change without a pen or paper.
Although considered sexist for decades, treating the ladies with deference is good manners and reflects the special place that women hold in our societies.
Play a musical instrument or sing in a choir.
See the movie "Pay it Forward" and live by its creed.
Watch a professional baseball game from the stands. Root hard for your favorite and eat a couple of dogs and have a beer.
Drink an RC cola and eat a Moon Pie.
Study hard. Make writing a clear and concise sentence a major goal of your education. College not for you? Pick a skill, learn how to do it in a formal training environment and make a life.
Love one woman.
Think hard how you will raise and support children.
Run for office.
Never stop reading.