“I am not an American, I am the American.” (Quoted by Mark Twain) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to comment on Twain’s role as a journalist in shaping the America of his day.
Twain’s words still ring true today. We are not free to hide within a crowd that we call Americans. Rather, we are obligated by our freedoms to represent the values and principles upon which the nation was founded. In all ways and in all places, we should see ourselves as “the American” in the room, from whom others will carry away an impression of America and what being an American means.
At its core, being the American in the room means demonstrating through our words and actions that all men are created equal. It means embracing all other Americans no matter what their race, religion or ethnicity or sexual preference might be. It means being willing to volunteer and work toward the well being of all Americans. It means being willing to defend the country in times of war and offering our help to friends and allies in their times of strive. It means being respectful of the symbols and institutions of the country. It means accepting and exercising the rights of a citizen to vote and to serve as needed in communities across the country.
As we celebrate our nation’s birth on the 4th of July, let us all take a break from the parades and picnics and fireworks to think about what it means to be THE American in the room. I hope that you take pride in carrying that title and are aware of the great obligations and responsibilities that it carries.
Happy Birthday America. I’m proud to be THE American in any room.