I was so pumped when the 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta. Nations from around the world were coming to my area of the world to see what my side of ‘America’ had to offer in terms of beauty, patriotism, and athletic ability. I wore a Nike hat with the American flag on it almost every day. I wrote my American flag T-shirt. I was proud to be an ‘American’.
Around 10 years later my place of employment hired a new guy. He had just moved to the United States from Columbia. We fast became buddies. One day at work he became slightly annoyed with me and my oversharing of ‘America Facts’ during a 4th of July lunch event. “You people, you guys just took America and made it yours.” I asked him what he meant. He wasted no time in sharing his feelings. “When I have visited other countries I’ve said I was from Columbia in South America. And someone would say something like they like President Bush! There is a whole other America! Not only that the United States is one of three countries in North America! You guys just took the name of two continents with so many countries and made it your name! You ‘AMERICANS’.” I sensed his slight annoyance so I offered to let him wear my American flag hat while handing him my souvenir American flag.
I understand his frustration. Why do we call our flag the American flag? Why do we call ourselves Americans? Do foreign countries meet tourists from the Western Hemisphere and assume they are all from the United States?
I imagine a man and woman having three children. Let’s just give this man a relatively common name you’d find in any country in the Western Hemisphere like… Steve Rogers. We’ll call the woman Diana Prince. Steve and Diana get married in which she takes his last name and, like previously mentioned, have three children. The children are George, John and Thomas. Steve and Diana tell the three kids that George’s full name is George Rogers, while the other two can just go with whatever last name they choose. But deep down, we all know you’re all Rogers.” John is furious. “Exactly! We are all Rogers! Why do we have to be identified as something else? Why does he get the name of Rogers!” Steve emphatically says, “Well George was here first. You should have been born before him if you wanted dibs.” Thomas, who is only three years old and the ever smart one, cries foul. “Wow father. That argument completely lacks all elements of logic. It makes no sense. Maybe I will just take a different last name, and a first name too while I’m at it! This is all crazy. From now on I’m Clark Kent!”
Patrons of Canada and Mexico, you are Americans too. The citizens of the five countries of South America I can name and the ones from the country I cannot, you too are Americans!
Would it be weird to see Captain America stop a bank robbery while wearing the colors and flag of Brazil? Probably. But we can adapt!
I’m proud to have been born in the United States. I love my country. But have the citizens of the United States ever claimed a title or identity, or anything really, that isn’t full ours to claim and make it our own? That’s not who we are.
The people of the United States should be open to the possibility of identifying ourselves with a new name. A name we can unite behind. Uniters? Statesmen? ‘Mericans?… wait…