Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. What Does Being American Mean To You?

 

61I asked a version this question at the Ace of Spades HQ:

I have been thinking about this a lot, lately, as the effects of Obama’s “fundamental transformation” manifest themselves. Today seems like an appropriate day to ask you what you think is the most American value. For me, it is exemplified in the following words:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

–Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963

This is the most fundamental of American values: that each of us is created equal and that, through hard work and determination, we can rise above the circumstances of our birth.

America is–or should be–a meritocracy, not an oligarchy. I think that’s why so many of us chafe at the ruling classes in our government, media, business, and other segments of society. And it is, of course, why most of us rebel against the trend toward protected classes who do not truly demand protection from discrimination, but special treatment.

What value do you think of as distinctly American?

The discussion veered off into a history lesson (and argument). Not what I intended, really.

When you think of what it means to be American” what comes to mind? I liked this answer:

We have a neighbor with a deployed husband who is 7 months pregnant. Been busy helping her move. THAT is who we are.

And this one:

Practically everything in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Seriously. Consider: A reindeer with a shortcoming really wanted to be on the sleigh team. He worked hard, and eventually his flaw was deemed to be an asset. He made the team. Just because one is born an elf doesn’t mean one is destined to build toys. If an elf wishes to become a dentist, he can learn dentistry and pursue that career. Everyone has value, even the misfit toys. Even the Abominable. Leadership (Santa) is important, as are individualism (Yukon Cornelius), community (the Island of Misfit Toys) and support from loved ones (Clarisse). There are so many American values in that story that I can’t single one out as the most important. It’s how they all blend together.

Many of the commenters answered, “liberty.” Others valued freedom of speech or movement.

What about you?

There are 35 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    To be part of something that died years ago, but the reanimated, zombified corpse still wanders around thinking itself a living thing, but is really a thing without purpose.

    And then I have my pessimistic days.

    • #1
    • May 25, 2015, at 12:12 PM PDT
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  2. MoxieMom Inactive
    MoxieMom

    LOL, Arahant!

    • #2
    • May 25, 2015, at 12:16 PM PDT
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  3. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve been thinking of some lines from the song Mick Ryan’s Lament, namely:

    But we’d find a better life somehow

    In the land where no man has to bow

    It seemed right then and it seems right now

    That Paddy he died for the Union

    Isn’t that the core of it?….the land where no man has to bow? Not to the squire, not to the District Commissioner of the Empire, not to an assigned role in life, not to a religion or an ideology not of his own choosing.

    • #3
    • May 25, 2015, at 12:34 PM PDT
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  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I am a citizen of the first nation founded on ideas. We are not a Nation of Race, or Nationality, but the first nation of brotherhood. Anyone can be American, not just a citizen, but American. It mattes not who your mother or father were.

    As a citizen on this great Republic, it is incumbent upon me to carry forth the great flame this is our unearned right. A day will come when the courage of Americans fail, when we will forsake our fellows, and break all bonds that bind this nation together, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of American comes crashing down, but it is not this day!

    Today I took my children to a Memorial Day Ceremony, to pay respects, to honor, but to learn the story that the Good Man teaches his Son. We are the legacy of the past, we are the teachers of the future. Upon that hill today, I saw Americans. We are the heirs to this grand and noble experiment to be the best the world has ever seen.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    That is what it means to me to be an American.

    • #4
    • May 25, 2015, at 1:44 PM PDT
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  5. MoxieMom Inactive
    MoxieMom

    That is what it means to me to be an American.

    I read your “Loving Wife” post… I thought that a hot wife in a bikini would be what it means to be American! :-D

    • #5
    • May 25, 2015, at 1:58 PM PDT
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  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MoxieMom:I read your “Loving Wife” post… I thought that a hot wife in a bikini would be what it means to be American! :-D

    That is also a good benefit!

    • #6
    • May 25, 2015, at 2:18 PM PDT
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  7. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Being an American means working hard so others don’t have to. At least, that’s what I’ve been told by our President.

    • #7
    • May 25, 2015, at 3:09 PM PDT
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  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    America is indeed founded on an an idea. In my family’s case, the original idea occurred almost three and a half centuries ago when one of my ancestors looked over the village of his birth and thought to himself “I gotta get out of this dump.”

    • #8
    • May 25, 2015, at 3:29 PM PDT
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  9. PHCheese Member

    One thing being American means to me is the freedom to say what America means to me. Being able to express your self on Ricochet is amazing. We have our warts but despite them this is a wonderful country . I have seen how things ebb and flow. Do not despair.

    • #9
    • May 25, 2015, at 4:01 PM PDT
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  10. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Maybe it’s the day – – but the first thing that came to my mind was the best one-liner in military history. I was very young when I first heard the story and even then, I remember thinking how very “American” it seemed to me — defiant, irreverent, brave, and funny, despite the dire straits the sender was imperiously told he was in.

    I’ve always loved a good story. I especially love a story where those who were under-estimated and misjudged triumph over people who thought they had them all figured out. America’s done that countless times before. I’m confident she can do it again – – and surprise even the doubters in her own ranks.

    Speaking of funny – – and irreverent – – here is the second thing that came to mind. It ranks a close second to the opening speech from “Patton” as one of my all-time favorite inspirational speeches to troops.

    • #10
    • May 25, 2015, at 4:19 PM PDT
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  11. Front Seat Cat Member

    I circulated this article to several people:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/05/22/day-president-bushs-tears-spilled-onto-marine-s-face-at-walter-reed.html.

    A client emailed me that she read Dana’s book in 2 days – I noted it has 5 stars on Amazon and 850 reviews. An old neighbor emailed me that she read that story to her husband en route from FL. to Virginia for a “special ceremony” – huge military family.

    We had barbecued ribs with a lot of Southern sides at my mother-in-laws Sunday. As we left the subdivision, we saw dads playing catch with their kids and wheeling carriages around the neighborhood. We came home and watched the tribute to Soldiers in Washington on TV and heard local fireworks later that evening.

    We went to the beach and grilled hot dogs today. This is America on Memorial Day 2015 – spending time with family, on vacation, flags at half-staff here – spotted 2 POW flags including one at the entrance of Grayton Beach State Park.

    Yes, Rudolph is what we are about – Christmas – loving the misfits – weeping at a soldier’s bedside – bowing on bended knee in church and praying for our country, neighbors, family, soldiers. For all our faults, trials, mistakes, this is the greatest country by God’s grace alone. We stand for freedom and express it every day – If America goes (or Israel – the “apple” of God’s eye), so goes the world. Happy Memorial Day!

    • #11
    • May 25, 2015, at 5:15 PM PDT
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  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    My Jewish ancestors were persecuted in the “old country”, and came here to get away from that persecution. They made their own way here, built thriving businesses, and prospered. Is it any wonder that immigrants are literally breaking down our doors to get in here? I am proud to be an American, and I refuse to feel guilty for other’s supposed transgressions. No apologies, no bows to authority. We ARE the best, and we welcome those who wish to work for their families and their country.

    • #12
    • May 25, 2015, at 5:28 PM PDT
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  13. Profile Photo Member

    Being American means having the best bikinis and swim trunks made with your flag.

    I am not American and my first exposure was of course TV and Disney movies. Later, we had many American exchange students visit my school and they did have amazing swimming costumes as we called them. I was fascinated that your flag was on everything.

    Being American means optimism and we can get it done attitude. Straight teeth, too. Most of all, it was the positive attitude.

    • #13
    • May 25, 2015, at 6:11 PM PDT
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  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There are two Americas I care about. One is in my head. The other is before my eyes and under my feet.

    The idea of America, as others have expounded, is accessible to all. That core belief is a radical preference for freedom — over security, over familiarity or comfort, over a shared history or even (as the rate at which Americans relocate from one state to another proves) a shared place. America is a frontier spirit which dares much uncertainty and difficulty in stubborn hope, with faith in God and hard work.

    The nation of America is a blend of peoples from every other nation on Earth. It is a huge and incredibly diverse place of mountains, swamps, plains, beaches, forests, deserts, and more. It is a cultural battleground, but one involving two sides who yearn not only for their own well-being but for the prosperity of peoples everywhere in the world. It is a nation of proud and constant ingenuity; a nation which insists on doing better all the time, never content with its jaw-dropping affluence and achievements.

    The idea, I think, awaits rebirth. The nation, like an injured animal, will remain an object of admiration even unto its end.

    • #14
    • May 25, 2015, at 6:12 PM PDT
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  15. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Michelle Obama said that after her husband was elected it was the first time she felt pride in her nation. Oddly since her husband has ruled it is the first time I as an American have felt shame of / for this nation. At this point I am not even sure I can claim allegiance to it.

    • #15
    • May 25, 2015, at 7:51 PM PDT
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  16. Profile Photo Member

    Fake John Galt:Michelle Obama said that after her husband was elected it was the first time she felt pride in her nation.Oddly since her husband has ruled it is the first time I as an American have felt shame of / for this nation.At this point I am not even sure I can claim allegiance to it.

    I don’t think you fully realize how dangerous your comment would be if a large chunk of movement conservatism ever started agreeing with it.

    • #16
    • May 25, 2015, at 8:02 PM PDT
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  17. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Not original, but I like Dennis Prager’s American Trinity:

    • E Pluribus Unum: out of many, one. We are Americans more than our origins, ethnicities, races, or faiths.
    • In God We Trust: if our inalienable rights come from our Creator, then they can’t be taken away by others.
    • Liberty: we are free to become all we can, and equal opportunity is more important than equal outcomes.

    Those work for me.

    • #17
    • May 25, 2015, at 9:02 PM PDT
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  18. Trinity Waters Inactive

    Fake John Galt:Michelle Obama said that after her husband was elected it was the first time she felt pride in her nation.Oddly since her husband has ruled it is the first time I as an American have felt shame of / for this nation.At this point I am not even sure I can claim allegiance to it.

    So move.

    I don’t have shame for our country, I have anger for all the idiots who elected Satan, twice, and I truly hate him for hurting our precious country.. We will survive him; we survived Wilson after all. This is Memorial Day, not crying day.

    • #18
    • May 25, 2015, at 9:02 PM PDT
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  19. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    @#16: They will sooner or later if we do not change the way things are going. The only thing stopping them is memory of a great past but eventually they will reevaluate the situation.

    • #19
    • May 25, 2015, at 9:03 PM PDT
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  20. Profile Photo Member

    Brad2971:

    Fake John Galt:Michelle Obama said that after her husband was elected it was the first time she felt pride in her nation.Oddly since her husband has ruled it is the first time I as an American have felt shame of / for this nation.At this point I am not even sure I can claim allegiance to it.

    I don’t think you fully realize how dangerous your comment would be if a large chunk of movement conservatism ever started agreeing with it.

    I think a pretty fair chunk of movement conservatism already does agree. I am sensing an increasingly powerful alienation from the country in much of the conservative commentary I read, something that seems to have more than a passing resemblance to leftist thought of the 60’s and 70’s. For an example just off the top of my head, the tone of Ace of Spades has become downright nihilistic, and is only slightly less downbeat than much of the Weekly Standard and The Corner at National Review. At least Hugh Hewitt is still cheerful…

    For myself, I have very few patriotic impulses anymore. As the demographic makeup of the country becomes more “foreign” over the next few decades, I will have even fewer.

    My main goal now is just to enjoy the decline. When the World is runnin’ down, you make the best of what’s still around.

    • #20
    • May 25, 2015, at 9:04 PM PDT
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  21. Profile Photo Member

    Fake John Galt:@#16: They will sooner or later if we do not change the way things are going.The only thing stopping them is memory of a great past but eventually they will reevaluate the situation.

    So I take it you see a point where political/tempermental conservatives STOP “Saluting the flag and respecting the badge?” Bear in mind that what is being suggested is not the fantasy known as “going Galt.”

    • #21
    • May 25, 2015, at 9:16 PM PDT
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  22. Barfly Member

    I subscribe to one piece of faith, and this is all I need. Anyone who holds this faith with me is my fellow American, no matter what else he may believe. I might find him weak or foolish in other matters, I might even stand against him if I deem him evil, but I won’t deny his standing as an American. Everything we are begins with this creed and follows from it.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

    Our form of Government has been destructive of these ends for over a century, at least since the reign of Wilson, who was no American.

    To the Left of today, few of whom I call Americans, I say – Y’all just keep it up, y’hear? A reckoning is coming.

    • #22
    • May 25, 2015, at 9:38 PM PDT
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  23. TKC1101 Inactive

    A place where you can become the person you want to be, where your children can achieve without limit by birth or class, where you can be left alone or thrive in crowds.

    A place where what you do is more important than your origins.

    A people who have the courage to do new things, who are not afraid to fail and not afraid to succeed.

    A place that prizes the individual as well as the community.

    A place without kings or commissars.

    A people who when roused in anger are the terror and hope of the world.

    • #23
    • May 26, 2015, at 12:39 AM PDT
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  24. Manny Member

    It’s home. It’s family. It’s friends. It’s geography. It’s language. It’s writers and poets and musicians. It’s shared tradition. It’s baseball. If you have to reach for some ideological thought to justify patriotism, don’t bother. It’s not in your heart.

    • #24
    • May 26, 2015, at 6:10 AM PDT
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  25. Front Seat Cat Member

    wmartin:

    Brad2971:

    Fake John Galt:Michelle Obama said that after her husband was elected it was the first time she felt pride in her nation.Oddly since her husband has ruled it is the first time I as an American have felt shame of / for this nation.At this point I am not even sure I can claim allegiance to it.

    I don’t think you fully realize how dangerous your comment would be if a large chunk of movement conservatism ever started agreeing with it.

    I think a pretty fair chunk of movement conservatism already does agree. I am sensing an increasingly powerful alienation from the country in much of the conservative commentary I read, something that seems to have more than a passing resemblance to leftist thought of the 60′s and 70′s. For an example just off the top of my head, the tone of Ace of Spades has become downright nihilistic, and is only slightly less downbeat than much of the Weekly Standard and The Corner at National Review. At least Hugh Hewitt is still cheerful…

    For myself, I have very few patriotic impulses anymore. As the demographic makeup of the country becomes more “foreign” over the next few decades, I will have even fewer.

    My main goal now is just to enjoy the decline. When the World is runnin’ down, you make the best of what’s still around.

    That’s what Ambassador Kennedy said returning from Europe during Hitler-we didn’t listen!

    • #25
    • May 26, 2015, at 6:45 AM PDT
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  26. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Tom Riehl:

    Fake John Galt:Michelle Obama said that after her husband was elected it was the first time she felt pride in her nation.Oddly since her husband has ruled it is the first time I as an American have felt shame of / for this nation.At this point I am not even sure I can claim allegiance to it.

    So move.

    I don’t have shame for our country, I have anger for all the idiots who elected Satan, twice, and I truly hate him for hurting our precious country.. We will survive him; we survived Wilson after all. This is Memorial Day, not crying day.

    Why? Allegiance to this country or even citizenship to it are not required to live here.

    Besides for years this country has been extorting money from me, why should I leave now when I finally have a chance for at least some payback? Maybe if I was younger I would try elsewhere but for now I will just lay back and enjoy the ride.

    • #26
    • May 26, 2015, at 7:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Brad2971:

    Fake John Galt:@#16: They will sooner or later if we do not change the way things are going.The only thing stopping them is memory of a great past but eventually they will reevaluate the situation.

    So I take it you see a point where political/tempermental conservatives STOP “Saluting the flag and respecting the badge?” Bear in mind that what is being suggested is not the fantasy known as “going Galt.”

    I don’t know if they will stop, old habits are hard to break. I do believe they will start to just go through the motions. The following generations will probably just never even start.

    • #27
    • May 26, 2015, at 7:15 AM PDT
    • Like
  28. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Barfly:I subscribe to one piece of faith, and this is all I need. Anyone who holds this faith with me is my fellow American, no matter what else he may believe. I might find him weak or foolish in other matters, I might even stand against him if I deem him evil, but I won’t deny his standing as an American. Everything we are begins with this creed and follows from it.

    Our form of Government has been destructive of these ends for over a century, at least since the reign of Wilson, who was no American.

    To the Left of today, few of whom I call Americans, I say – Y’all just keep it up, y’hear? A reckoning is coming.

    I could believe in that place. Too bad it no longer exists. All that is left is a shadow of what was.

    • #28
    • May 26, 2015, at 7:17 AM PDT
    • Like
  29. The Reticulator Member

    This is not a direct answer, but back when I was just barely a teenager, or maybe not quite one, I thought Leave it to Beaver was subversive of American values. I don’t think I ever mentioned it to anyone, though. If I’d rewatch some episodes now, I’d probably agree with my earlier opinion. (I watched quite a few episodes on its original run.)

    • #29
    • May 26, 2015, at 7:41 AM PDT
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  30. The Reticulator Member

    The Reticulator:This is not a direct answer, but back when I was just barely a teenager, or maybe not quite one, I thought Leave it to Beaver was subversive of American values. I don’t think I ever mentioned it to anyone, though. If I’d rewatch some episodes now, I’d probably agree with my earlier opinion. (I watched quite a few episodes on its original run.)

    I should also point out that we didn’t say “values” back then. That kind of talk came much later.

    • #30
    • May 26, 2015, at 7:43 AM PDT
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