What It Means to Be an American

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The following was sent in my reader OneIfByLand:

Robert, your post the other day about you being a former gun-control advocate got me to thinking about my childhood and growing up in a rural community. I was fortunate to grow up in a household where my father was a gun-rights supporter. He use to take me and my brothers shooting from a very young age. He understood that young boys in particular would be curious about firearms, and always made it a point to let us know that whenever we wanted to see any of his firearms, all we had to do was ask and he would take the time to stop what he was doing to show us, let us ask questions, hold and learn about any of his firearms while under his direct supervision. These were the days when . . .

firearms security was not as much of a focus, and many of his rifles and even handguns were not stored in a safe (although he always stored them unloaded with ammunition stored in a separate location) – even with three boys, I can’t really recall a time when we let our curiosity get the better of us. Knowing that we could always ask dad to see his firearms and knowing he would show us, took a lot of the mystery away and stemmed our natural curiosity.

My grandfather came to America when he was 17, from Italy. I remember distinctly how he would tell us some of the differences that makes America unique. When he was growing up in Italy, there was a king…the loyalty was always to the king. In America, he would always point out that things were different here. Unlike kings, presidents come and go, and in America, you are loyal to your flag (i.e. your country), not to any one person.

The flag symbolizes the country and, you owe your loyalty to no one person or institution, but to the flag of the United States. This is best represented in the Pledge of Allegiance. We pledge our allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. Not to any one person or institution. A fact that I believe is lost on the current administration which has taken to using such euphemisms for government as “federal family,” or when referring to the NSA, “these are your friends and neighbors” in an effort to somehow humanize the institution. To make government somehow less threatening.

All this brings me back to where I started this e-mail…”What It Means To Be An American” and all I can remember is the plaque that was hanging on the wall in my bedroom for as long as I can remember. My father put it there. He can no longer remember where he got it, but he hung it on our bedroom wall to remind us as we were growing up, what it really means to be an American.

I have done some research, and it is originally attributed to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and it was known as the “Entrepreneur’s Credo”. It was then modified slightly and republished by Dean Alfange who, ironically was a appointee in NYS Government as a member of the Racing and Wagering Board, and Deputy NYS Attorney General in the mid 1970s – the same state government that today, is intent on restricting our natural, civil and constitutional rights.

Alfange was also a founding member of the Liberal Party of New York (back when “liberalism” meant something vastly different than it does today) which was founded to provide an explicitly anti-communist counterbalance to the American Labor Party.

Although Alfange supported “Judicial Activism”  and the notion the the US Constitution was a “Living Document” he also served in a number of activist roles including in a Zionist organization known as the “Committee to Arm the Jewish State” a group that sought to end the arms embargoes against Israel (Source WikiPedia)

In the 1950’s, Alfange penned “An American’s Creed” (also known as “My Creed”) – a version that was adapted from Thomas Paine’s credo, and it was that version that hung on my bedroom wall for as long as I can remember. It said:

I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon, if I can. I seek opportunity…not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the sale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think, and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations and say ‘This I have done’…All this, is what it means, to be an American.

Some may ask, what does this have to do with firearms? I say….Everything.

Like the private ownership of firearms and the value we place on the commitment to ensure our own personal security, this mindset is what sets Americans apart from every other person in every other county around the world.

I still have the same plaque that was hanging on my bedroom wall, and this morning I walked down to my garage, pulled it out of storage…wiped it down with a soft cloth, and hung it again in my home, for all to see.

This is what it means to be an American. I am that American. And I am a gun owner.

comments

  1. avatar John Boch says:

    Nice.

    I’m stealing this.

    John

  2. avatar William Burke says:

    Thanks for posting this, Dan. I saved the graphic on my iPhone, as I do often with such spectacular stuff.

    1. avatar OHgunner says:

      Me too. I need this on a poster for my reloading room

  3. avatar PeterC says:

    Thank you. That sums it up beautifully.

  4. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    What America needs now more than ever is ….more Americans as defined above.

    Great post and thanks for sharing.

  5. Some months ago I commissioned an artist and hand-letterer to produce this for me, suitable for framing, to hang in my home. I have the artist’s remarkable work and have yet to frame or hang it. Your post has reminded me to get my butt in gear.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Well done, OneIfByLand. And thanks for the trip down the memory lane of New York State politics. I remember the Credo, especially “I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole.”

    Reading it still makes me shake my head, because it conflicts so strongly with the ethos of the Liberal Party of New York and meshes so closely with the policy statement of what became the Conservative Party of New York.

  7. avatar Tom from Georgia says:

    Outstanding, inspiring post, and absolutely words to live by. We do indeed need more Americans than ever before; or it will soon be too late.

    Let’s pray it’s not too late, but if fate has decreed so, make ready to fight with everything we got, and then some, until victory is won and America is restored.

    Tom

  8. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Wow.
    This is fantastic.
    Well done.

  9. avatar H-Dizzle says:

    I don’t find where Paine ever said it or anything much like it, but if he did, point me to the scholarly attribution please, I’d rather use his version than a hack. But my gut tells me it really was the work of Alfange, maybe INSPIRED by Paine…

    I’m just looking for the straight facts because I also would like to get a very nice framed version of this. One of my mentors at work has this as his epitaph already (he is 80) and attributed to Alfange… would love to clear it all up.

  10. avatar Greg in Allston says:

    An outstanding post. Simply outstanding. Many thanks for putting this out there for the world to see. I’ll be sharing this with my family, and especially with my young daughter. I wish that that plaque was on the wall of every home and in every classroom in the country.

  11. avatar g says:

    OneIfByLand, thank you for sharing your family’s story. Glad to have you be a part of our community!

  12. avatar jirdesteva says:

    Well done. I’m going to to lead with it on all my e-mails to my reps from now on Copied and pasted. THANK YOU.

  13. avatar mk10108 says:

    I should send this to our local schools. I was invited to participate in a career day. I provided video on various packaging equipment, pouches, boxes and film structures. No other industry has a wide variation in marketing, graphics, engineering, electrical controls, weighing, filling, case packing…the applications are endless.

    Every person, student or adult only asked one question. What program do you offer after which when complete, will I have a job? THAT is all the evidence or indictment, if you will of what our education / government system has become. A check list…if I do this, I get that. Epic failure on a grand scale.

    1. avatar Peter says:

      how is it considered an epic failure to request knowledge as to how one can learn to do the same job that you do?

      1. avatar Mk10108 says:

        Well Peter, if they wanted knowledge, I could provide. Took me almost twenty years in an industry before I found my bulls eye. My point was….seems people no longer rely on themselves, they want cliff notes and a check list, then guaranteed employment sponsored by a government program. In effect, people are incapable of looking at information and see possibilities or opportunity.

        1. avatar karlb says:

          I would also add that a true education does not teach a person how to do a job; instead, it teaches a person how to think.

  14. avatar Ben in UT says:

    This was great to read. Thanks.

  15. avatar bigred1 says:

    Well said, brother.

  16. avatar JoshtheViking says:

    Amen, Brother.

  17. avatar BDub says:

    Its like a short version of the Libertarian party platform. http://www.lp.org/platform

    Thanks for posting.

  18. avatar JasonM says:

    I’ve never understood why people think the pledge of allegiance is a good thing, or that it fits with the American ideals. Ignoring the fact that a hardcore socialist created it (which is bad enough), it is completely anti-American (probably because a hardcore socialist created it):

    I pledge allegiance to the flag…and to the republic…
    This is not an allegiance to an ideal or to one’s community, it’s an allegiance to a government. Dictatorships demand allegiance, not free states. Governments are imperfect institutions created by man. This one is no different. The founders warned us about this sort of thing. Repeatedly.

    …one nation, under god, indivisible…
    There are good arguments that most of the founders believed in Judeo-Christian morality, but there’s even stronger evidence that they believed the government should be agnostic. But the more important part is that it’s not “one nation” it’s a federation of fifty sovereign states. And it is quite divisible. Nothing in the Constitution prevents any state from leaving if it chooses. Until the 1860s secession was understood as a right of any state. And even after that it was an understood right, just one that was violated.

    …with liberty and justice for all.
    The only part that sounds American. And it’s tacked on at the end.

    I think the image posted at the top of this article does a much better job of embodying the American ideal than the pledge.

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      The original Pledge was written by a clergyman, but did not contain the “under God” bit.

      That was added during the McCarthyist craze, by someone wishing to instill yet another point of distinction from those “Godless Commies.”

      Shouldda left it the way it was, representative of the nation as a whole..

      1. avatar JasonM says:

        The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist,[4][5] and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898).
        –Wikipedia

        So both statements about him are correct.

  19. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    “The right to be uncommon…” Perhaps. Sometimes. In certain, carefully delineated ways.

    Seems to me that when I was growing up, the nail that stuck out got hit.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      The good old days in America. My brother used to get beat in school by the teachers cause he was left handed. people talking about government tyranny in America nowadays didn’t experience the 50’s and the pre civil rights era.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        Nope. Quoting Daniel Webster on the subject of the draft didn’t fly too well in grade school, believe you me.

        Ah, well; at least we have access to a bazillion television channels, so who cares about tyranny…?

        1. avatar Barstow Cowboy says:

          My question is, if we’re going to be a nation of exceptional individuals striving for excellence and too proud to not be the masters of our own destiny…who’s going to work down at the DMV?

  20. avatar Ruddee says:

    Very good write and something we seem to have forgotten along the way……some us.

  21. avatar Tom W. says:

    Thank you.

  22. avatar Pat says:

    Great words. Sums it all up.

  23. avatar MH121 says:

    Okay it can’t be just me but the shape of the words is a pineapple grenade…..

    or maybe just a beer keg….lol just saying

  24. avatar Nate says:

    I was talking with someone about the current state of The American Dream, that if you come to the US and are willing to work, then you should receive your due riches for your work. This was on a backdrop of immigrants coming to Florida to pick oranges on an episode of Inside Man, a CNN documentary series.

    The point of the show I got is that there are hard working immigrants working many hours a day picking oranges and getting paid $ per pound, and how little government help there is to such a hard worker. It got me thinking, “What about ‘work smarter, not harder’ ?” where we encouraged each other to do a job smarter. Why can’t the immigrant guy doing honest work come up with a machine or method to pick more oranges and do it with less manual labor.

    If you want to know where the American Dream is at, it’s not too far from “Work Smarter, Not Harder”. I think left-leaning media happily skips that “Work Smarter…” message in their coverage of those who work, and just zips right to “What can the government do to help people in need”. To them, working harder is all that we should expect from people, because working smarter is launching into a class struggle.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      It got me thinking, “What about ‘work smarter, not harder’ ?” where we encouraged each other to do a job smarter. Why can’t the immigrant guy doing honest work come up with a machine or method to pick more oranges and do it with less manual labor.

      Read “Centennial” by James A. Michener for a “historical” commentary of migrant ag workers (in Colorado).

  25. avatar Anonymous says:

    There it is! Winner! This man deserves the FNS 40! I realize the competition is over but somebody give him an FNS 40.

    1. avatar OHgunner says:

      Seconded.

      Of course that’s easy to say when it’s not my money being shelled out 🙂

  26. avatar Jus Bill says:

    Bravo!

  27. avatar Samuel Leoon Suggs says:

    I’m a former transcendentalist; but I got over it when I turned 9.

  28. avatar P.M.Lawrence says:

    That wikipedia article was inaccurate about ‘the “Committee to Arm the Jewish State” a group that sought to end the arms embargoes against Israel’, as that committee was formed before Israel was, and it wasn’t aimed at ending embargoes against Israel but against the Zionist groups working to create Israel. I have amended the article accordingly.

  29. avatar Evan HB says:

    Very great article. Just a note; the pledge of allegiance was written by a hardcore socialist as a form of indoctrination, I believe to brainwash elementary school students. Francis Bellamy I think was the author.

  30. avatar Gregolas says:

    Thank you Dan, for posting this.

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