What Does Being an American Mean?

That’s a question that I think more people need to ask themselves.  Does it mean that your ancestors came over on the Mayflower? Does it mean your great-great-grandfather was a slave in Georgia who was later freed? Does it mean your family has been in the United States for 5 generations, or is 4 generations enough?


I’m not the type to usually watch beauty pageants, they’re just not my cup of tea. But I do watch the news and also morning news programs. Therefore, I couldn’t help but find out that the latest Miss America crown went to a woman of Indian descent for the first time.

Nina Davuluri was born in America many years after her parents moved here from India, both intellectual professionals who contribute to society. Yet the backlash started almost the instant the crown was put on Ms. Davuluri’s head. People on Twitter saying she’s a Muslim and linked with Al-Qaeda. I honestly don’t know if she’s Muslim, but why would that automatically link her to a terrorist organization? I’m sorry to inform everyone, but with the number of Muslims in the world we’d be in deep shit if they were all terrorists.
There was also talk of her Bollywood dance during the talent portion of the competition. I will not quote the tweets because to do so will only give the words more power. Suffice it to say, derogatory remarks were made about the style of dance she chose. This got me to thinking…what is “American”? What does that mean?

Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri

Miss America 2014
Nina Davuluri


In the same news segment they showed a couple of the other girls during their talent portions. One was Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, who injured herself during rehearsals of her baton twirling routine. Well, baton twirling originated in Western Europe and Asia, so would it have been un-American for Ms. Jones to have won? And what about Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail? I don’t think there are many that can argue against the fact that this young lady is as American as they come…she’s in the National Guard, has the Serenity Prayer tattooed along the side of her torso, she even wore combat boots for a portion of the competition. But wait! She is majoring in Chinese in college and sang opera (which you all know is not an “American Thing”) for her talent. Does this mean she’s not American enough either?

Theresa Vail - showing her shoes

Theresa Vail – showing her shoes


Here’s a question…are any of these women less American than the guy who can trace his ancestors all the way back to the Mayflower yet sits on his butt collecting from the government? Not because he’s fallen on hard times and can’t find a job, but because he’s decided it’s easier not to work or contribute to society. He only listens to the country station on the radio, only drinks domestic beer, watches baseball and football and eats wings most nights. But he hasn’t held a job in 7 years and quit looking about 5 years ago. Whoo Boy!!! Now that’s an American for you! Is this what we’re saying now?

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends and family who listen to country, drink domestic beer, and watch sports. I have tons of friends who are out of work.  That’s not my point, and I hope you can see that. These ladies are all upstanding citizens of the United States of America who are doing much to contribute to America and their communities. As Candace Bergen reminds us in “Miss Congeniality”, the pageant is a scholarship program.

Miss Congeniality DVD cover

So what does being American mean? To me, it means respecting the United States and those that live here. (Respect does not equal agreeing with everything that happens in our government, but discussing things in a calm and open-minded manner.) It means being proud of the things we, as a nation, have accomplished through the years. It’s about making sure good things still come from our nation…whether it be ideas, goods or services. It means respecting my neighbors regardless of their religious beliefs or their genetic background.

What do you think being American means?

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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