Last night, as I was watching the fireworks display put on by the City of Clarksville (yes, they did it a day early – no, I don’t know why), I started thinking about how odd it is that most things we consider “American” are really imports from other nations and cultures. Fireworks, for example, are Chinese. Apple pie is a creation of the Dutch, and hamburgers and hot dogs are both of German descent. Jazz music, created in New Orleans, is considered by historians to be the first real example of truly “American” music, but even jazz takes cues from other cultures, mainly those in Africa. Our language, American English, is a blend of the Queen’s English and borrowed words from dozens of other languages (especially Native American languages). Even that most American of sports – baseball – has its roots in English and Scottish folk games (at least according to Wikipedia).
The more I thought about it though, the more it occurred to me that this absorption of other cultures is the very basis for American cultural society – one of those basic history lessons you get in elementary school about America being a melting pot. People moved here from nearly every other country on Earth and in doing so, they brought their traditions, food, languages, etc. They absorbed some of the habits and cultures of their neighbors, and their neighbors did likewise. The end result is a national culture that is distinct in the fact that it is so INDISTINCT, if that makes sense. But, that’s not a bad thing. I think our unique heritage of so many different cultures makes us an interesting place to live. No other nation has such a diverse populace living in relative peace with each other. It’s one of the many things that makes the US the best place to live. We’re not perfect, by any means, but I still don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else.