What does it mean to be an American? It seems like a simple question, and one we tend to reflect on when it’s time to celebrate our independence — Fourth of July being the most American of all days. But as we learned in this issue, the answers to that question are varied and complicated.
We posed that question to 12 people who either were born in the United States or immigrated here. Some came here seeking more opportunity or fleeing political persecution and the horrors of wars in their native countries. Some, born here, were endowed with all the freedoms and privileges that come with being an American, many tracing their ancestry to people who fought in the American Revolution. Conversely, some born here have faced discrimination and hardships because of the color of their skin.
But what everyone had in common, no matter how difficult their American journey, was an appreciation for this country and its ideals. With NASA and the University of Texas Medical Branch and our petrochemical complex, the upper Texas coast attracts some of the most talented people in the world who contribute to our community and culture in meaningful ways.
Some of you might quibble with our use of the word “American,” arguing it refers to anyone from North and South America.
For that reason, some claim U.S. citizens’ use of the word American is incorrect, even imperialist. We don’t agree. In this context, America is not so much about geography as it is about an idea. It’s a state of mind.
Happy Fourth of July.