Opinion | What it is to be American

Our news is filled with stories about immigrants wanting to come to our country to escape the dangers in their homelands or just to escape the oppressive poverty. The biggest issue dividing the nation is whether we need to keep out these people attempting to cross our southern border to protect our nation’s sovereignty; or are we just racists keeping out the brown people from Central America.

I know my mother’s parents came to America before World War I from Germany. I do not know the exact reason they came but am sure that part of it was for a better life and maybe to escape oppression. But that was a different time, and America welcomed immigrants if they were white, and especially those from northern Europe. It was a time when we engraved “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” on the base of the Statue of Liberty. A time when our southern border was open. It was immigrants who helped create the most powerful nation on earth. Immigrants fought in the World Wars to keep America free, and they made our economy what it is today.

Today it is some of the descendants of those immigrants who came to America for a better life, who want to keep out our neighbors from the south; or keep out those who follow the teachings of the Quran rather than the Bible. As I sit here, I wonder what makes an American. I know we have the Constitution and laws that define what legally makes an American, but what defines an American Heart.

I know what I think defines a true American. First they believe in their hearts the key words from the Declaration of Independence –

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (men) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And the Preamble from the Constitution which defines the reason for our Government and Constitution

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Next, they believe in meeting the responsibilities of a citizen and working hard to for their family’s success.

Despite the President’s views, I believe the vast majority of those struggling to come to America share these values. I also believe these migrants will serve our nation as well as those migrants of the last centuries have. What makes the difference is not the color of their skin, but what is in their heart.