I always felt that Ronald Reagan turned out to be the right man at the right time in one crucial way (though I hadn’t expected it when he was elected). Namely, in the power of his friendly optimism. ‘Don’t worry, be happy,’ was the unspoken theme of his economic policy at a time when we had lots to worry and little to be happy about. And yet – in tandem with a strong hand from Fed Chairman State Paul Volcker – it proved self-fulfilling.

You’ve likely seen this already; it has been shooting around the Internet for nearly three years now. I just got it again yesterday. It’s not quite what it purports to be (see below). But it is affecting nonetheless, and perhaps fitting to the memory of President Reagan, who always chose to see America at her best.

What Is an American?

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is, so they would know when they found one. (Good on ya, mate!!!!)

An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, Pakistani, or Afghan.

An American may also be a Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as Native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that, he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God given right of each person the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

Americans welcome the best, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes. But they also welcome the least.

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty, welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America. Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. I’ve been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 other countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did Generals Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself.

Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

Author unknown

This was ‘not penned by an Australian (or a dentist),’ in point of fact, as snopes.com informs us, ‘but by Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law in Northern Virginia.’ It appeared in the issue of National Review following September 11.

Even so, ignoring our imperfections and sometimes humongous missteps, it calls on us to be our best. Ronald Reagan would have liked that.

I was going to leave it there, ignoring the several less than laudatory e-mails I got today on the passing of our 40th President. There is a time and a place. But having lost more than 100 friends myself to AIDS, I was particularly affected by this one.

Rest in peace, Ronald Reagan – and Steven Powsner.


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