Commentary: Hey Righty! What's being American mean?When I was a young man growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota I knew my family was poor, but I had no idea what it meant to be an American.
By: Dale H. Hanson, The Republican Eagle
Editor’s note: Dale Hanson won the July 4 Toastmasters charity speech contest in Red Wing titled “What it means to be an American.” He selected Red Wing Care Center to receive the $100 prize.?His speech “Hey, Righty!” is reprinted here as commentary.
When I was a young man growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota I knew my family was poor, but I had no idea what it meant to be an American.
I knew my family was poor because my father who was so proud to be an American would walk to the barn every morning and night and beg the cows for milk so he could feed our poor family. I never understood my father, but like me he must have had a tremendous power of persuasion because almost every day he came back to the house with milk and cream, and sometimes even butter and cheese.
If you have never experienced hunger or poverty, you may have no idea what it means to be an American.
I did not choose to be an American any more than I chose to be blind, or to experience mental illness, to be gay, or even to be right handed.
I feel pretty lucky though, because I have never been bullied for being right handed. No one has ever stopped me on the street and said, "Hey Righty, you better watch your step! Look here, Righty, this is Denny's and we don't serve your kind here. Righty, you better step to the back of the bus."
If you have never been harassed or discriminated against, you may have no idea what it means to be an American.
I never had the opportunity to serve in the military, but I have spent most of my adult life fighting for freedom and liberty right here at home. Today I honor, thank, and pray for the men and women who continue to fight for our independence. I pray especially for all those who have lost family and friends and for those families whose loved ones have come home with illness or injury in service to our great country.
If you have never experienced the gut wrenching pain of war, you may have no idea what it means to be an American.
Having the freedom and liberty to fight against hunger, poverty, discrimination, evil, and even stupidity is part of what I believe it means to be an American. Having the wisdom and courage to have faith, and believe in you is part of what I believe it means to be an American because together, together we are America.
Without unity and civility there can be no peace, justice, freedom or liberty. Liberty to me is like a giant hammer, a powerful tool that can be used to build up or crush the spirit of every man, woman, and child.
I choose to build community. I choose to listen, share, educate, and advocate because I believe that is what it means to be an American.
When I was a young man growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota I had no idea what it meant to be an American. Today I have a spirit enriched with love and joy that cannot be measured in dollars and cents, and like my father before me I am very proud to be an American.
Before my father died he too was a Toastmaster. Today I dedicate this experience to his memory as my father, my friend, and as a former Toastmaster. God bless you, God bless my dad, and God bless America.