Dr. King once stated "We are not makers of history, we are made by history."
I couldn't agree with this more. We are who we are because of our ancestors living out THEIR American story. I have spent a lot of time over the past few years researching my ancestry. Although I have a lot of research still to go, I have already learned a lot about who I am based on who they were.
I often say we are 'all in this together' and I mean that. We all believe differently. We were all raised differently. We all come from different places, different countries, different cultures. That's what makes America so great. As such a young nation, we have a unique opportunity to take bits and pieces from our ancestors (who came from all over the world) and mix them all together to create what we believe to be the best possible concoction of a culture to raise our children in. I personally am English, Scottish, Irish, German, French, Cherokee and a little something called Melungeon (basically a gypsy culture). I am all of these things, I am AMERICAN and I am proud of that. That is my story.
My ancestors boarded a ship and set sail across a great ocean to reach a shoreline... extending the border of the country and the culture they had always known. They brought with them their customs and beliefs, meshing these with the customs and beliefs of Americans who reached the same shoreline via a different boat. Instead of defining America as a country with borders wouldn't it make more sense to define America as a place where the borders of all countries in the world meet? Yes, America is a chunk of land. If you delve into the idea behind the founding of America though you quickly realize that the chunk of land is not what matters. American is a way of life. Consider it an adjective - a way to describe blending the best parts of the world together into one.
"We have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now" - Martin Luther King Jr.
My personal American story is influenced greatly by each of their individual stories. From Captains in the Revolutionary War, to the Governor of Tennessee. From coal miners and saloon owners to elementary school teachers, post masters and mechanical and electrical engineers. Many stories have influenced my own and I am thankful for each. My family tree wouldn't be nearly as interesting without them.
I work daily to educate my generation and future generations on the diverse history that America has been created from. The longer we are meshed together the more we will become as one. It is important to understand that America is created from so many more than one. It is important and it is something I want my children and my grandchildren to understand. I am proud of my heritage - heritage that comes from many different corners of the world. I want nothing more than for our future generations to understand the complexity of their heritage. I believe this was the essence behind Dr. King's ideas and dreams. A group of people that appreciates, acknowledges and welcomes the different cultural and lifestyle aspects that we all bring to the table. A land of justice and equality for all.
Are you interested in sharing your story? Answer the prompt of the week on your blog and link up at www.FOLKlifestyle.com. I'll see you there!