Being an American means enjoying more security, freedom and liberty than any other nation in the world. Being an American means supporting and defending American democracy and every democracy that supports America. Being an American means pledging allegiance to the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands.
Being an American means to be free from those who come to America not to become Americans but to harm Americans on behalf of foreign powers.
Being an American means being educated and participating in democracy.
Being an American means learning about American history and what it means to our survival.
Being an American means re-examining ourselves in times of adversity and coming to no uncertain terms with those who threaten or undermine our freedom.
Being an American means trusting in the establishment of our Constitution "...to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity..."
Being an American means that we cannot abide any attack against our people or our country by any evil in the world.
Being an American means that we must exact American justice against all those responsible for acts of terrorism against America up to and including the cowardly, heinous acts of war committed on September 11, 2001 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
What does it mean to be an American? It does not mean living in fear of terrorism. It does not mean living in a culture of social aggression, political rancor, legal anarchy, superficial selfish interests and media-driven chaos. And, clearly, it does not mean living in fear of terrorism.
Being an American means living free, love of country and the constant effort to make it better. At this point in time it probably means that "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."
However, there's something else about being an American that's disturbing, indeed, self destructive. Before the smoke of death had settled on the day of infamy, this American watched a troubling segment of a program that aired on public television. "History of the Future: Technology and the Global Village" contained a piece by a teenager about being American. In the production a teenage girl skated around on her roller blades talking to people about what it means to be American. Her conclusion between each interview was to skate up to the camera, smile and say, "What does it mean to be an American or to be in America? Nothing! It's just a place where you live." Then she made the peace sign and roller bladed away.
Is that casual glibness our future? Considering the way our culture has eroded, maybe so. Meanwhile, this American wonders what America will do about this deeply seeded crisis, and what that young film producer thinks about being American now...