By virtue of having been born on the soil of the United States of American at Welborn Baptist Memorial Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, I can proudly proclaim I am an American.
But – what does it mean beyond being an offspring fortunate enough for my nativity to be in this country?
What distinguishes a person as an American other than the site of birth?
How can we tell who is an American versus who may be, say, a Canadian, who speaks and looks like most Americans?
There is no singular ethnicity to set us apart as American.
There is no particular racial classification, but a hodgepodge of all races and sub-sections.
There is no single country of colonization of this portion of the North American continent.
There is no official language.
There is no particular genetic marker to trace who is and is not an American – such as eye or hair color, skin pigmentation. An American, as the words in a children’s song, may be red and yellow, black or white.
Physical characteristics, speech and dialects, none of the usual suspects define an American.
New Americans come into the world almost every day – and not – by birth.
Americans are not persuaded or aligned with a state religion or practice of faith and spirituality. In fact, one can be an American without any belief system that envisions a power greater than ourselves.
Other than a predominance of democracy and federalism, Americans do not pledge allegiance to a universal ideology or political persuasion. Political leanings are all over the map.
Some Americans amble through life with no basis in the alter-verse of politics or ideology.
From the Cornfield, I can beat my chest and swell with pride by virtue of birth to be an American.
But what other than that marks me as an American?
Some can lay hold to the honor of being an American through the process of naturalization, denouncing any and all allegiance to the country of their birth or country of last residence.
Many of these Americans are more patriotic and willing to lay down their lives for their adopted country than those who are homegrown, to their shame.
The belief in and living up to the radical idea ascribed by the Founding Fathers that an American will defend to the death, pledging honor and fortune to protect and uphold the belief that all humans are endowed by their Creator with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is what makes me able to crow, “I am American.”
Not – because I was born in the Cornfield.
If you are an American, what makes you – other than birth – an American?