The American idea is a free church in a free state, and a free and un-sectarian public school in every ward and in every village, with its doors wide open to the children of all races and of every creed. It goes still further, and frowns upon the constant attempt to divide our people according to origin or extraction. Let every man honor and love the land of his birth and the race from which he springs and keep their memory green. It is a pious and honorable duty. But let us have done with British-Americans and Irish-Americans and so on, and all be Americans - nothing more and nothing less. If a man is going to be an American at all let him be so without any qualifying adjectives, and if he is going to be something else, let him drop the word American from his personal description.
Henry Cabot Lodge Sr. (Speech given in Brooklyn: December 21,1888)
There is one question that we are all asked and my response drives some people crazy.
What is your background? "I'm Native American" I always reply.
Some people think that is an unacceptable response. Why? I was born here, raised here and schooled here. My history is American history, my people are the American people.
Some refuse to accept that response. They think only Indians shall be identified as Native Americans. But this is my native land. I know no other. How can I be a native of a place I have never been? Those who think that Indians are the only people who can legitimately claim "Native" status must think that people are like potatoes, that they sprout from the ground, and that's how you define ones origin.
But people do not sprout from the ground. The history of civilization shows that humans are nomadic, always on the move. So yes, I am a Native American.
Another pet peeve I have is a malady that afflicts many. You may even suffer from it. It's called "Hyphenated-American Syndrome".
If you have ever said the following words: "I'm Irish-American" you suffer from this.
I got news for you; you're not. And that's not coming from me; that is the response you will get from any native of Ireland. Or China. Or anywhere else. They see you as American. You should too.
Truth be known when the chips are down, you see yourself as an "Unhyphenated American" as well.
How do I know?
Take the "Tank Test".
Say tanks from the Italian (or any other country) army are rolling across the Brooklyn Bridge. Are you going to join their efforts? Or do you want those tanks destroyed? As Patton said, "trust me, you'll know what to do."
A main symptom of this Hyphenated -American syndrome are these ethnic parades in NYC. It never ceases to amaze me with how native born Americans self identify with these ethnic parades more so than their own American heritage.
People burst with pride by wearing green, playing bagpipes and wearing kilts on St.Patrick's Day.
Don't get me wrong: Baldman is not saying that these parades should be banned, we all have the 1st Amendment Right to Associate, to freely express ourselves.
But where is the burst of pride for our own country? And don't tell me we do it by lighting bottle rockets on July 4th.
Do yourself a favor. Celebrate the red white and blue. Go to Prospect Park, where the American Revolutionary War was fought. Go to lower Manhattan, visit Federal Hall on Wall Street, where Washington was inaugurated. Walk down the block to the Trinity Church graveyard and pay your respects to the incomparable Alexander Hamilton, who is buried there.
Know your heritage. Honor it. Treasure it.