The irony, it burns.
It’s sobering to consider the degree to which we have lost our knowledge of and connection to our American heritage. As a result, William B. Allen notes that we have been transitioning increasingly from a society of “independent yeomen” to a society of “wards of the state.” The challenge before us is to determine whether we can rediscover our heritage, and relearn the requirements for becoming good and free citizens while also reclaiming the sovereignty we have ceded to the state.
The first step toward recovery, after our recent celebration of the 241st anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, is to remind ourselves of its unique proposition that because we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, equality and our common commitment to the political implications of that equality—not race and blood—are the founding principles of our nation.
We’ve lost our knowledge of and connection to American heritage because many, if not most, US citizens are not Americans by any definition except paperwork. It shouldn’t be surprising that Germans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Mexicans, and Chinese never had any interest or ability to transform themselves into the independent yeomen who historically existed only in England prior to the establishment of the United States by predominantly English settlers.
You cannot rediscover a heritage that isn’t yours. You can’t become “American” by a sheer effort of will any more than you can become “Japanese” or “Jewish” that way, no matter how much you like football, sushi, or matzo ball soup. All you can do is decide what your society is to become and then do your best to make it that way. There is no going back in time, so the only possible direction is forward.