But before we can go any further, I think today is a good day to stop and take a look at what it truly means to be an American. I realize that there are so many issues swirling around us right now, how can I ask you to contemplate something so elementary even for a moment. We have racial tensions uprooted, health care in a forest of concerns and an economy hanging on by our last dollar.
But let's just assume that if you are reading this, you were probably born right here in the good 'ole US of A. Well done. The stars were certainly aligned for you, now weren't they -- that being a statement, not a question.
I may be stepping out on a broken limb but I must say, just because you may be born in the states doesn't guarantee the American tree is embedded in your roots.
America was created by hand and through hard work. What began with the Pilgrims, a discovery that used to be celebrated in our schools with Columbus Day, has now evolved into a serious case of identity theft, that which we need all fellow Americans to find the courage to address.
For the sake of conversation, let's bounce over our first two hundred tumultuous years prior when America found herself grappling with wars, documentation, creating government and giving birth to western culture and the hip, young, up and coming democracy we know today (for people who don't know me, there was a bit of sarcasm in that last remark).
Point is, we created a Republic -- a people working freely and equally for the same cause, and direct opposite of monarchies and dictatorships.
As part of our American way, we all grew up pretty much in the same way for a very long time. Not without a few exceptions of course, having had our grandparents and great grandparents and maybe even all the generations before that, we can trace our roots back to a family member arriving to the land of the free to become an American.
We were given the image growing up in school of the "melting pot" and how all kinds of people, through strife or through joy, came to America to make a better life in the new land. A land where freedom was fought for and revered by not only ourselves through generation after generation, but through the eyes of the entire world. We were respected, and honored, and deep down inside each and every one of us, we KNEW we were special and that this country of ours was some kind of wonderful.
Our federal government was somewhat controlled. Our states personalized our experiences. Our communities celebrated American culture individually and collectively through the simple turning of the pages in the calendar. America had her seasons. America had her culture of holidays and festivals, from birthdays to Memorials, and rites of passages and traditions. America had her roots in all kinds of different soil, but deep down, we all drank the water from the same well.
Our formative years, besides being a world entrenched in security, liberty and means, gave custom to a culture that grew from this place of faith and tradition. Whether we had an Irish grandma and Italian pop, whether British or German, African or Asian, Mexican or Islander we were created on American soil -- giving birth to an American soul -- and blessed with the great duty as caretaker to the health, wealth and life of all that She stands for.
As history proves time and again, the most precious of these freedoms may lie in the separation of church and state; our founding fathers recognized that as simple as it may sound, making a land and it's people free to follow God (or not) by not aligning with a state religion. This allowed for all people who come to our shores the free will "endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights...Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". But the conversation on faith is not going to happen today...
I am going to make a giant leap now and warn all of you that if we, as a people, as a Republic, do not "wake up" as one of my favorite people, Glenn Beck, likes to say, we are going to lose our American Identity, our American Way, and find ourselves living in a state without the simple liberties we seemingly are taking for granted now.
Our young President Obama was not raised American. Forget about the documentation of the birth certificate people! It doesn't matter even if it were true. What does matter is how this President, who represents us as Americans, has struggled with an identity crisis of his very own, admittedly in his own words from his memoir Dreams From My Father. He stresses how so much of his early life was wrought with questions of who he was and void of the firm foundation that only a nurturing, secure parent can bring.
His formative years were absent of any security. Both of his parents struggled with the duty of raising their son, having his father flee by the age of two and his mother leaving him to his grandmother. Neither parent offered much of a spiritual foundation; his mother proudly atheist and while both his birth father and step father were Muslim, Obama claims he was never really involved with the teachings of Islam however illogical that may sound. He had little tradition, little faith and hardly a mainland experience to speak of. The reality is, the American culture that most of us were raised on was just not a part of his life.
Now that Obama is safely grounded in the oval office he talks about his Muslim roots, as if all of a sudden he had this great epiphany. Clearly afraid of discussing it while campaigning, I ask then what is this allegiance all about? How have these young formative years, absent of American culture an tradition, truly shaped our President? These are fair questions.
While Obama may say that we are not a Christian nation, we are founded under "one God" with Liberty and Justice for all as defined in our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Constitution, Pledge of Allegiance, and our money. Our founding fathers recognized something greater than ourselves as evident in our unwavering faith in our Creator; and as most Americans agree today, make no apologies for it! Accentuating the positive, we love how we are a country of faith and tradition and Christmas and Easter. Whats more, 86% of us believe in God altogether.
As Americans, we have inherent by our birthright formative years as a country and as individuals that come together to shape us into who we are today. While we may not all look the same or come from the same place, we choose to have these traditions of faith, family, ritual and certainly the English language in common with each other; conversely, the more we look at what divides us, the less grounded and uprooted we become.
The culture that trumps whatever else we bring to the table is being true blue Americana. It is through our traditions year in and year out that bind us together and make us as strong. And even though the American tree is diverse, I am most assuredly not speaking in terms of turning us into one big loaf of white bread; I am only recognizing that it is through this pure dynamic of melting into one that we are longing for and show great loss as a culture without, as evident in these trying times. I believe America is intelligent and regenerating. It evolves with each new season, blossoming into new generations springing forth innovation and discoveries that are for the betterment of the American future.
The Sun shines upon our Culture and the entire world has reaped our bounty.
Before I leave you today, I only recently discovered something that I thought fascinating. By contrast, John F. Kennedy made Sir Winston Churchill an honorary American in a ceremony in the Rose Garden in 1963. The remarks made were extraordinary and to recite the entire read may be a little much, so I will leave it to your free will if you are so inclined (see http://www.winstonchurchill.org/)
Point is, in a rare occurrence you can become a citizen of this great country through profound service and inspiration. While our fine young President Kennedy's words of commendation and proclamation made a stunning finish in saying:
"DONE at the City of Washington this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord
nineteen hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the one hundred and eighty-seventh."
Need I say more.
Make it a good day, G