An American on the 4th of July
Before Columbus made his fateful voyage in 1492, there was no United States. And there was no Canada or Peru or Columbia or Mexico or Cuba and on and on. The United States is referred to as the land of immigrants, but the entire Western Hemisphere is the result of immigration. Europeans, African slaves, Asians – all traveled to and settled in North and South America. The indigenous tribal nations of the Americas were conquered by the immigrants and new nations arose. And in these nations, new citizens called themselves by their nation-names – Cubans, Mexicans, Canadians, Colombians, etc. Just one name. Not two. Descendants of African slaves also live in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil and they call themselves Haitians, Cubans, Brazilians. Not African-Haitians, African-Cubans, African-Brazilians. Descendants of Italians in Argentina call themselves Argentinian. Descendants of the Spanish in Columbia call themselves Columbian and on and on. Only in American do we hyphenate our personal history. “Fill-in-the-blank”-American. Why? Surprisingly it was a Canadian who pointed this out to me. She said, “why are people in this country afraid to say that they’re from here? Why do they always say they’re from someplace else?” I’m not sure that we’re afraid to say we’re an American, but we don’t identify with it. We identify with our heritage. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 5th generation American – I still hear, “I’m Italian.” In the past the Italians were Romans but that changed. At what point aren’t you just an “American?” With our different complexions and facial features our ancestral heritage is obvious. But maybe if we only referred to ourselves as Americans, that might bring us together. So when we hear about an injustice to another American, we won’t say, “I’m not an African, Japanese, Hispanic-American so I don’t care.” We’ll say, “It’s an American calling for help and I’m ready.”
Anyway, I’m just an American and if I decide to visit the
European countries of my heritage, then I’ll need my passport.