USA! USA! USA?
I live in a downtown Dallas high-rise almost on top of the American Airlines Center and overlooking the south plaza, which was crawling with spectators Thursday for the USA-GERMANY World Cup match. I had the game on the television, scanned twitter and glanced down occasionally at the diverse group assembled below and it got me thinking.
Then Friday morning I get up and see a column by a prominent woman who was so clearly fishing with Ahab’s ferocity and tortured spirit I won’t oblige her by republishing her name here.
But the questions swirl in my head amidst the seemingly unrelenting current of divisiveness. What is American? What does it mean to be patriotic – what constitutes a patriotic act? And am I an idiot because I’m asking these questions? Shouldn’t I know? Shouldn’t we all know? Shouldn’t these truths be self-evident?
The Star Spangled Banner is played and heard almost exclusively at sporting events. I wonder sometimes why we play it at sporting events but I’m proud that in large measure sport is keeping it alive; but for sporting events, where would most of us ever get the chance to hear and sing it? If I have a hat and take it off am I more patriotic? If I face the flag am I more patriotic? If I sing am I more patriotic than someone who doesn’t? And if I’m on headset and have a last minute broadcast issue to exchange with our director or producer have I committed an unpatriotic act?
I’m the grandson of Italian immigrants on my father’s side and Slovak and Dutch/German on my mother’s. I vote in Presidential elections and sometimes in other elections when I remember there are other elections being held. I pay my taxes. I work – well – if calling hockey games for a living can be called “work”… I raise my daughter, I shop and eat and contribute and live within the rules best I can. I have an American passport. I travel to other countries; some places are better at some things than we are, in some endeavors not so much.
Yet I still can’t define it exactly. I’m sure I’ll get tweets and emails telling me what it means to be an American. We’re good at that for sure. Telling others what it means to be American, what it means to be patriotic.
And then I look at the 23-man roster of the 2014 USA Men’s Soccer team; 12 states represented (including two players from Texas), three players born in three different German cities, one player born in Oslo, Norway and all coached by a German.
Diverse, hard working, united as one, focused on a common goal, with the ability to inspire others to come together in public places to celebrate and support them and each other.
That helps me.