While bringing together a group of exchange students together with Americans the topic drifted to one student who told the internationals: " ....we fought and overthrew the tyranny of English Rule over us." Immediately the foreign student responded saying..."but you are black, how can you say "we". As the conversation quickly moved to this issue, it became clear when the student defended himself stating that "in America, it is not who racially, or nationally did this or that, but what we as a country did together. It is what makes the immigrant American to assume the participation in the Revolution, white folks assume identity with the civil rights achievements, what makes Americans adopt Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, and make it their own. It became obvious that success in being American is the ability to celebrate our collective achievements as our own regardless of any ethnic, cultural, or national origin. Go to an American Oktoberfest, Greek festival, Polish festival, and Americans celebrate it as their own. Look at the St. Patrick's Day parades, etc.
This is the essence of being American. Our history did not start when our specific ancestor arrived, but from the very beginning, embracing all our history as our own personal history. When we learn history, read history, see history we see it as OUR history, our literature, our culture.