I am an American citizen. I may get a little confused when I tell the stories of my country--like James Madison’s role in writing the Constitution or exactly what is provided for in the Bill of Rights--but I know what those documents mean.
I know I would go to war to defend them. I am an American citizen, and that is a privilege.
Like most of my peers, I have parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents who help me preserve our family history. From the stories of coming over on “the boat” to how my relatives fought through The Great Depression, I owe my family and this great country the duty of re-telling those stories to my children and grandchildren lest any of them ever forget those who came before us; those who worked their bodies hard as icemen, coalmen, cleaning ladies, miners, factory workers, and more so that we could go to school and make a good living.
I am an American citizen. I am fortunate enough to own two cars--the worse of which I drive to work, the better of which I give to my wife to keep my family safe, dry, warm, and cool. I try to provide them with good things--education, full bellies, a safe haven called home and, most importantly, a respected reputation. When my family goes anywhere, it is my responsibility to see they are welcomed in good graces by the name my wife and I have established.
I am an American citizen. I have great pride. It is a cornerstone of a productive life.
Difference In Opinions
I sometimes disagree with the people who have power in this country. I have that right as a citizen. But that disagreement doesn’t manifest itself as belligerent hate. I can disagree and still maintain composure and empathy.
No one wins a screaming match. Dignity should always be a part of being an American citizen. And when I look into the eyes of those who so loudly proclaim what is right and what is wrong--as if they know for sure--I see the same fear in them that I would have if I were talking so loudly. And I pray they learn to be still before others realize how ignorant they really are.
I am an American citizen. I chose a role in life that was steady, safe, and secure. It is the path of my father and his father before him.
My grandfather worked at the same steel mill for 32 years. My father was with Ford Motor Company for 36 years. This past June, I completed my 29th year with the Cleveland Metroparks. When I reached an executive-level position at 28, I gave my grandfather my new business card that included the word “Manager.” It was in his wallet the day he died. It’s in mine now.
When I graduated from college in 1983, it was common to hear people say, “The average college graduate entering the workforce these days will likely change jobs six or seven times before reaching retirement age.”
I knew in my heart that didn’t apply to me. I spent years watching friends move quickly from salesman to sales manager to district manager, earning company cars and business-expense accounts; I was often tempted to change my philosophy, but I “stayed the course,” a term Ronald Reagan taught me, and I am currently one year shy of retirement eligibility through the Public Employees Retirement System.
I am 50 years old. Although I have the right to retire, I have no intention of doing so now, but it sure is nice to know I’ll be working with that type of safety net. See, I was able to follow my own mind and apply my own methods to my career. I had that choice because I am an American citizen.
American As Apple Pie
I love American sports. I love the competition of football, baseball, and basketball on the youth, high school, college, and pro levels.
I love the social element where the mere call of “Let’s get together for tonight’s game” turns an average Wednesday evening into a house full of people and laughs. My son’s Saturday-morning soccer matches always included aunts and uncles and grandparents who watched the game and then joined us for breakfast at a local joint.
These events are so American and wonderful. I fear the day the family is grown and there are no longer youth-level games to attend. How will I know when the seasons change?
In the summer, I live for the cool evenings when I listen to the Cleveland Indians on the radio, and sit with the dog, a glass of iced tea, and my bag of peanuts--all solid comfort as an American citizen. When there’s a big hit or a crucial strikeout, the phone rings and my brother-in-law states his opinion into the phone with venom; five seconds later, he laughs out loud at the ignorance of what he just said.
My Cup Runneth Over
The master bedroom in our house has a window I can gaze out of when I lay with my head at the foot of the bed. Sometimes on a Saturday, I awaken early and open the shade.
America is usually up early on the weekend, too: the paper boy on his bike, the gentleman from down the street walking his dog, and the heart-healthy couple who jogs by every day at the same time. I hear the whine of an 18-wheeler on the highway and the drone of a jet heading to Cleveland Hopkins Airport.
My son walks into the room, his faithful Shepherd Bruno at his side, panting, shedding, and smiling all at the same time.
“What are we doing today, Dad?”
“Let’s get a doughnut, Sammy. I could use a cup of coffee. Then we’ll head over to my mom’s and help her dig out those flower beds. We’ll be back in time to shower and see that matinee that you and Mom want to see (Americans make the best movies too). Then maybe we’ll finish the day at the pool--it’s supposed to get pretty hot today.”
Sammy nods in simple agreement, and heads downstairs to let the dog out. I reach over and embrace my sleepy wife, and then slide out of bed. It’s another perfect day in the life of an American citizen--a life where you don’t have to ask for much to receive a great deal.
Happy Veteran’s Day!
Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.