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America Is More Patchwork Quilt Than Melting Pot

Blogger, writer, and social media maven. I love the internet and have been blogging and writing online since 1996.

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island

Who Are We?

Ask any American what his nationality is, and nine out of ten, he won’t say “American.” Instead, he’ll say something like, “I’m half French and half Polish with a little German thrown in.” There are large organizations of Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Polish-Americans, Russian-Americans, Greek-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and other hyphenated Americans all across the United States dedicated to preserving the customs and language of the ancestral homeland. That homeland may be a country that was left behind six generations ago, or just yesterday. With the notable exceptions of Native-Americans who were already here, and African-Americans who were brought here as merchandise, and became fellow-citizens only after a long and bloody civil war, every American is the descendant of somebody who voluntarily came to America from somewhere else. And every American carries a piece of that ”somewhere else” inside him.

We are a patchwork people, a cultural and ethnic stew. Every big American city has a Chinatown and Little Italy along with dozens of other ethnic enclaves. Our roots are shallow, extending back only a few generations. We know little about our past. We live in the present and the future. As a nation, we are very young. A proud Italian American may never have visited Italy, know not one word of Italian, but still gets excited when the land of his ancestors wins the World Cup. We yearn for the continuity of place and family that is routine in Europe and Asia. That is why you find busloads of us touring England and Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, and the rest of the world, trying to find a connection that was lost years ago. And when we find it, we are delighted. The stories are quite moving.

Forefathers by Dan Fogelberg

My great great Aunt Annie

My great great Aunt Annie

Personal Stories Are Moving

I have a friend who somehow got in touch with relatives in Sweden, the country from which her grandparents had emigrated a hundred years ago. These long lost cousins were as happy to find her as she was to find them through the wonders of the internet. She went to Sweden for a visit, and a big family reunion was held at which she was the guest of honor. She was overwhelmed at the warmth of the welcome given to her by people she had never met. “I am a stranger to you” she said. “No, replied her new-found Swedish cousin, “you are family. You have been away and now you are home.” Could there be a stronger testament to the ties of blood than that?

Few of us come from distinguished forbearers. Generally speaking, dukes don’t emigrate. In my own case, the original immigrant on my mother’s side was a poor Lincolnshire lad who joined the British army for “three hots and a cot” and ended up fighting in the American Revolution. Like fully a third of his compatriots, he deserted after the battle of Yorktown and went off to the American frontier to find his fortune. What he found was a hard life and an early death from consumption. I have a diary, written by one of his sons that details it all and it is one of my most treasured possessions. My father’s family came later to the American table. My Norwegian grandfather, a sailor, was shipwrecked in America in 1880. After a bout with typhoid fever in New York, he joined the American Navy and never looked back. His sons went to Annapolis and became career naval officers. His grandchildren have fanned out into the American mainstream. I have some old photos, and a family bible. That is my only connection to the land of his birth. The cord has been cut in two generations.

And then there is the other side of the coin. Because we are from every corner of the globe, everybody, everywhere, has a relative or neighbor or ancestor who immigrated here. Every remote village in the world has a resident who went to America and became a millionaire (or said he did).

I love to hear those stories too. It seems that the world feels a kind of proprietary interest in us as a People. Kenyans and Indonesians claim Barack Obama as one of their own. The Irish own John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Arnold Swartzenhager is the pride of Austria.

While nobody is claiming serial killers for their national family tree, the list of Americans whose heritage is celebrated by those in the old country is quite long. It’s not totally selfless, I suppose. Finding a rich uncle in America used to be the equivalent of winning the lottery. It sure isn’t any more. Maybe that is part of why the world feels so anti-American these days. The land of opportunity is shutting down in the wake of war and economic scandal. The lady who lifted her lamp beside the golden door is not so welcoming these days. But cheer up world, our patchwork is still intact—a little frayed and we are adding new squares here and there, but we’ll be fine.

We have hybrid vigor and we are good at re-inventing ourselves. Just give us a little time. Meanwhile, I think I’ll check that family bible. Maybe I have a rich uncle in Norway.

© 2008 Roberta Kyle


Johna779 on July 28, 2014:

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Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on October 10, 2011:

Hello Storyteller-- always nice to see you and read your thoughtful comments. Thanks for making a second visit to this one-- I feel honored:-) You describe that wonderful Nordic combination of dogged stubborness, grudge holding and genuine caring that can seem so puzzling to outsiders. I love the story of you and your cousin

Thanks for reading and commenting

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on October 08, 2011:

Scroll to Continue

robie2, I have a Norwegian sister in law (who has not become an American citizen despite living here for 20 years) who gets annoyed when I say that I am Norwegian, as I was born here and my parents were born here and their parents were all born here. One day, to really annoy her, I said, Heck, I am more Norwegian than you! You have an Irish grandmother and my relations were all Norwegian! She didn't speak to me for quite some time. Now, we laugh about it.

In fact, being Norwegian informed my entire childhood. I take pride in knowing I have relations who were Sami, for example. The Irish in my neighborhood wouldn't warm to my mother and it was always us against them at the bus stop, when it came to politics.

Now my kids are all adorable mutts. I wonder if the more diluted the ancestry, the more appropriate "melting pot" will become? I honor the ancestry of others here in the US. I think it brings a strong sense of camaraderie with the rest of the world.

Loved this hub. Voted up and awesome even on my second read, lol.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 17, 2010:

Gosh Twilight-- thanks you are too kind--Glad you liked this one. Your comment really made me feel good-- in fact it kinda made my day:-)

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on December 17, 2010:

What an amazingly beautiful and well written hub. I cannot start to say how much I enjoyed it, and loved every reference. It was charming, uplifting, thought provoking and... I think I liked it!!!

Loved the choice of video too.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on July 03, 2010:

Thanks Putz-- glad you liked it:-)

Putz Ballard on July 03, 2010:

So well stated and beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on December 04, 2009:

Good to see you too:-)

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on December 04, 2009:

Nice one, robie2. Glad to be back in your hub tribe.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on March 16, 2009:

Glad you liked it Dave. Thanks for dropping by:-)

mysticdave from Salt Lake City, Utah on March 16, 2009:

I love this hub, very interesting look into American history:)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 21, 2009:


LondonGirl from London on February 21, 2009:

the odd thing was, when I knew him in his 90s, he was a mild-mannered man. And pretty short, only 5 ft 5 or so. But clearly not a man to mess with (-:

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 21, 2009:

My God, LG-- you've got a book not a hub here-- this is an amazing family saga and one that deserves to be shared with the world IMHO. I was born during WWII and my father fought in it so for me it is not history but living memory. I well remember seeing the first newsreel footage that came out about the reality of the camps several years after the war was over.  It was profoundly shocking and left a lasting impression even though I was very is still shocking and more shocking still that there are places in the world where people deny that it ever happened. And then the Soviet Gulag experience???? some karma I must say and a survival story worth telling.

LondonGirl from London on February 21, 2009:

her husband's was even more extraordinary - he was captured by the Nazis at the start of the war, and decided his long-term future as a Jewish POW was short and nasty, so killed his two Nazi guards, and escaped to Russia. He then ended up in a Soviet Gulag - and lived to tell both tales!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 21, 2009:

a wise decision:-) hope he won't mind you sharing the story.

LondonGirl from London on February 21, 2009:

good idea - I'll ask OH, though,first

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 21, 2009:

That is an amazing story LG-- I hope you will write about it here. His granny must be an extraordinary woman.

LondonGirl from London on February 20, 2009:

His Granny was liberated from Auschwitz, weighing 5 stone and riddled with TB. But she survived, met his grandad in London, and had a son.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 20, 2009:

Well better ahead of a concentration camp than in one-- not that it is a laughing matter at all. As my father used to say " Dukes don't emigrate". People only pull up stakes when they have to so the history of immigration anywhere is full of some pretty tragic stories. But I still think that the more people mix with each other and move about and intermarry, the more they get to know one another and to value their shared humanity... and that's the best way to stop war that I know of:-)

LondonGirl from London on February 20, 2009:

It wasn't terribly healthy, his ancestors tended to be just ahead of a program or concentration camp.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on February 20, 2009:

Yes there were--and not just to Virginia and then of course there were African slaves whose indentures never ended. Many of the "volunteer" immigrants were also just one step ahead of the sheriff.

I like your other hallf's story-- in this modern era it is more and more the norm and it seems to me a very healthy thing. As the world beciomes smaller it becomes ever more important for us to all get along--that said I think it is also helpful to know where we came from:-)

LondonGirl from London on February 20, 2009:

Were there not quite a lot of indentured servants and convicts shipped to Virginia early on, as well as volunteer immigrants?

My other half's family has really go about. He, his parents, and grandparents were each born in a different country. 7 people, 7 countries of birth (-:

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 15, 2009:

Hi RGraf-- good to see you and thanks for stopping by to read this one. I haven't visited myself in some time:-) Yep--we are quite a mix aren't we-- both our strengh and our weakness as a people, but it is what makes us who we are for better or for worse.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on January 15, 2009:

Hi RGraf-- good to see you and thanks for stopping by to read this one. I haven't visited myself in some time:-) Yep--we are quite a mix aren't we-- both our strengh and our weakness as a people, but it is what makes us who we are for better or for worse.

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on January 15, 2009:

Wonderful piece. I don't know too much of my history, but my husband is an example of a patchwork. He has been traced to German dukes, a great Indian chief, and many settlers. We are a story of the world in one nation.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 30, 2008:

Hi Marisue. I love our quilt too--though it gets frayed around the edges sometimes, it has given a lot back to the world--no I don't mean McDonalds and Rap music LOL

I love the personal stories and family secrets of all people, and find myself fascinated by the rootedness and continuity of other cultures....we are so young and so new that our stories are very close to the surface. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

marisuewrites from USA on June 30, 2008:

I love our quilt of many colors and the melting pot of customs and foods.  Our large variety of quisines make the mouth water.  I am proud to be a Heniz 57 blend of Indian, Irish, English, Scottish, and no telling what else. 

What an interesting read, did you see the movie The Gangs of New York?  Talk about an eye opener.  I couldn't sleep for weeks remembering the scenes of that bloodbath and harsh beginnings.  Still, the land and hope of the free.  But, it didn't come easy nor does it yet...  I have a large tolerance for differences and I thank my now deceased parents for that kind of parenting.  I do-o-o get riled when others think Americans are a sorry lot. 

We try.  Many sacrificed their lives and their family's lives for progress in this nation.  Why?  Freedom called.  Opportunity enticed. Because we are such a mixed breed, coming from all over the world, our history is a mixture of beliefs and customs.  We ARE connected.  Thank you for bringing this to the forefront, so close to Independence Day.  A day of unity, really.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 30, 2008:

Thanks, William. I love family stories too and will look forward to are right I have more coming if I ever get a minute to sit down and go through the pix and papers LOL Thanks for your comment.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 29, 2008:

I love stories about ancestors, robie2, and it looks like you've got more coming (that diary has to be a real treasure.) I know next to nothing about my relatives on my father's side, except they are Irish, but I'm planning to do some writing about my grandfather on my mother's side, also Irish. I also enjoyed your pictures.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 29, 2008:

Thanks for your comment, SweetiePie. Always a pleasure to see you

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on June 27, 2008:

Very interesting hub and look into the American experience. I especially enjoyed the pictures of your relatives, which gives a real feel to this hub.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 24, 2008:

Surely, sixtyorso, that is the lesson we have been studying since we lived in caves, and in these days of global travel and communication, it is a lesson that is more and more crucal. We haven't done too well as a species in the past....let's hope we can be better tudents in the future:-)

Clive Fagan from South Africa on June 24, 2008:

Hi Robie2 I wonder if your profound comment "we are all related and humankind has been melting in the melting pot since time began." is not perhaps the lesson of life which we all need to learn. That is tolerance, forebearance and acceptance?

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 23, 2008:

Hi sixtyorso-- and thanks for adding so much intereesting info on the migration of our human family. Not to mention your own family connections. In the end I suppose we are all related and humankind has been melting in the melting pot since time began.

Clive Fagan from South Africa on June 23, 2008:

In South Africa too we are a real melting pot. But to make things stranger I had an Aunt who was engaged to Kid Como, a boxer, who was reputed to be Perry Como's brother ( or cousin I am not sure). But to confuse things more our original indigenous population come from Maropeng which is reputed to be the cradle of humankind (Mrs Ples and all that) Who when Gondwanaland was one mass of land they simply trekked to all the corners of th earth so theoretically we all share DNA and any of us could have a re-union and be family. So science is kind of pointing out that Adam and Eve may not necessarily be a myth.

Great Hub food for thought.  I love stories about the early Americans.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 20, 2008:

Hi Desert Blondie and thanks for a meaty thoughtful comment. It's always good to see you.

Jamagenee--well Hi there:-) Good to see you since you are the one who tracked down so many of my Kansas family's secrets for me. Have to admit I used Annie's photo only because,of the old pix I have scans of, hers looked the best in that spot. I suppose a pic of my Norwegian grandfather would have fit the text better but I don't have one--so Annie got the spotlight.

Actually, we don't really know whether Annie came to America willingly or not but I do know from my grandmother that she always looked down on Americcans and certainly never wanted to be one ......ironic she spent most of her life in Kansas in spite of it. Genealogy reaffirms how funny life can be dontcha think?

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on June 19, 2008:

Robie, another great hub! However, since I do know a little bit about your ancestors, I can't help but wonder why Aunt Annie's photo leads this particular hub. After all, she was brought over from Wales pretty much against her will, hated being here, and would've sacrificed a limb rather than become an American citizen. On the other hand, you couldn't have picked a better hub to display her countenance. BRAVO! Ruby and Edward (and Monta and Sophia) probably haven't stopped laughing. :)

desert blondie from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen on June 19, 2008:

A comment to one of the comments...To Sally, take deeper pride in your side of the family that participated in the War for Independence....without those brave heroic folks, your other families would not have had the "beacon" of a great USA to make their homes. The patchwork exists because of those colonialists who put their lives, their assets, their pasts and their futures on the line for an experiment that has proven so valuable, so leads to "patchwork" hubs by our great hubber, Robie2. And, to all those, like Sally's mother, who holds their citizenship as sacred...remember where that treasure originated...colonialists who joined in an effort still considered "the shot heard around the world."

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 15, 2008:

Hi Trish and funnebone-- thanks for commenting and adding personal American pedegrees to the mix. I'm finding this fascinating--we are such a pot-pourri of the world's peoples, aren't we?

funnebone from Philadelphia Pa on June 15, 2008:

Fantastic! I don't think other parts of the country realize how important lineage is to we yankees! I was an arryan far as we could piece together we were english, irish welsh and dutch and germabn..or some sort of combination like that. If I ever have kids I am just going to say english aqnd irish and let them make whatever sense out if it that they may.

Thanks for a great read

trish1048 on June 15, 2008:

Hi Robie,

What a beautiful hub. It brought tears to my eyes.

As far as my heritage, I am half Slavish (my mother), and the rest is Cherokee, English and Irish on my father's side. My sister-in-law has been doing the family tree for years (my father's side). And although it fascinates me, it boggles my mind. I give my sister-in-law a lot of credit, as both her and my niece do this together, and they have traveled to seek out the cemetaries, towns, etc both here and abroad.

Thanks for a wonderful heartfelt hub,


Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 14, 2008:

Hi Dakota and thanks for your comment. I too hope that our next president can turn the ship of state around. It won't be an easy job, that's for sure.

Marisue--good to see you. I think it's easier to become an American citizen than to get citizeenship in many other countries. We're pretty easy about it. And y9u betcha I'm gonna vote this fall and so are more Americans than ever before--goot thing too.

Jack--I'm gonna check those recipes. I'm a stomach thinker too:-)

Jack Burton from The Midwest on June 14, 2008:

robie.... if you make it to my hubs look around for some great Filipino recipes. I believe the best thing the various immigrents gave to our country is a wealth of recipes/cooking styles unequaled anywhere in the world. But I always did think with my stomach first.


marisuewrites from USA on June 14, 2008:

America is the most welcoming nation on earth. Citizenship is not easy and often not fair and I hope that process simplifies. I also wish at the same time we would tighten our borders against those who have no healthy purpose here, realizing that is not an easy judgement to make. A beacon of light and hope, America continues to be a good choice for many, as they risk their lives to come. May we who are born here hold the freedom of this country a bit more sacred.

Voting is the exercise of our voice. Let it Ring!

Great hub!!

MJ Dakota from San Diego, California on June 14, 2008:

Very Nice Hub!! We are truly a American patchwork quilt and I love that phrase. Gives me an image of all Americans of all ethnicites being wrapped up in a cozy blanket as we share this world, living in unity as Americans. Not trying to force our ancestral tragedies on others to repay us for something we had no control or personal involvement in. (I can dream can't I?)

All our families have suffered in one way or another in the past and economically in the present, but let's not live in the past; explore it, learn from it, grow from it, but don't hold onto it with a vengeance.

Alas, we are a crippling society may our new President work to unite and bring back at least some of the American Dream!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 14, 2008:

Hi Jack--and thanks for sharing a bit of your typical Ameican family here--just proves the point--"halo halo" yer own self:-) BTW I like your avatar and will stop by to sample your hubs soon. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Hi ST--always like to see you and love your comments--they are always so thoughtful and original. You prove the point too--I am just lovin this comment thread--hey maybe you are related to steph amy and shadesbreath too--ya never know:-)

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 14, 2008:

I was always told by my mother, who was born in Poland, that I am more American than most because I can lay claim to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution through my father's ancestry.

I think differently. I think I am more American from my mother's side, since she and her family had to fight so hard to get here, stay here, and gain their citizenship despite the hardships of the Great Depression and the Eastern European events that presaged World War II.

I'm not saying my father's family is not patriotic, but I must say that my mother is the embodiment of the determination, resiliance, pioneering spirit, and individuality that we think of as American. My mother votes religiously, campaigns heartily for her candidates, and fights stolidly for the rights and freedoms of all. She views her status as an American to be sacred and worthy of fierce protection, and I think that's because it was so recently and dearly earned.

(By the way, my father's family hails from Kentucky, although I can't actually confirm a Boone connection.)

Robie, thanks for another one of your hubs that generate great discussion and commentary.

Jack Burton from The Midwest on June 14, 2008:

My half-Filipino son with a German/American Indian mix from my side is having a baby girl with his lovely wife who's four grandparents came here directly from Ireland.

As they say in Tagalog, "halo halo." (mix mix)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 14, 2008:

Hello again Nana-- yes I think that wherever spend our first 1 years on the planet forms us --even if we spend the rest of our lives somewhere else:-)

Hi VS--and thanks for your comment. Yours is definitely and example of the typical American family--ain't it grand?

pjd--always a pleasure to see you, my friend. You write so well on the joys of Hidden Dublin:-) that a compliment from you is greatly appreciated. Thanks and don't worry about us Yanks, we've re-invented ourselves before and we'll do it again--and soon I think.

Hi paraglider--good to see you too. Yes, I think the world wants to like us too and has been really disappointed by the current gang of thieves--me too I might add:-) I'm hoping for President Obama--but we'll see. BTW another reason so few Americans go abroad is the country is just so huge--you can go thousands of miles and encounter only other Americans--kind of a dreary thought eh?

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on June 13, 2008:

Great hub, Robie - I'm sure one of the reasons so many Americans never travel abroad is that so much of 'abroad' is already there. I think much of the world is waiting to like America again as soon as the foreign policy becomes a little more grown up. The next few years should be better than the last few!

pjdscott from Durham, UK on June 13, 2008:

At last - for the first time in several weeks we have a hubber writing on a topic og feneral interest with knowledge, expertise and substance. I think America's strength is in her inter-breeding; it is a known scientific fact that mongrels are far more healthy than thoroughbreds and the same applies to humans.

I only hope that America's current problems are solved by the depth and resolve of the varied and diverse people of this wonderful country.

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on June 13, 2008:

LOL! I had a loud chuckle at none of us claiming serial killers to our family tree, but adding dukes wouldn't be a problem, such is the human ego. hehe. In my immediate family we have a beautiful Thai girl who married my older nephew who is half Philippine in Dec. 2007; Omar my late nephew, was half Arab, both nephews are americans and neither speak/spoke the language of their dads; I immigrated to the USA as a little girl, and I tell ya, I love this country. I am grateful to be here!

Kathryn Skaggs from Southern California on June 13, 2008:

Thanks robie. Simple answer, powerful implications. I must agree, loyalty is powerful and perhaps I have not given that one single element, the due respect that it deserves. A person may leave their hometown and never return again, but will hold on tightly to that part of their life, which is their beginnings, and so much of who they are.

Great thoughts:-)



Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 13, 2008:

We all have our stories, oberbreckling, and I find them endlessly fascinating. Thanks for sharing yours.

oberbreckling on June 13, 2008:

Hi robie this is exactly why Im proud to be an American shows that it doesn't matter where your from that's why I say lightly this nation is second to none my family is from Germany catholic high German my grampa was the first born here then my dad then me but all this makes up a great nation and yes doghouse we are certainly mutt of the world good way to put it

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 13, 2008:

Hello CJ--Yes, I do think that our stories are our roots. That's rather nicely put... Moreover, i think human beings do need roots and a sense of belonging, whether to a new place or an old one. But yes, it is, as you point out, a question of what you want and what you need. And not every plant needs roots :-)Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on June 13, 2008:

You have a deeper sense of where you come from than I do. These patchwork places are all over the globe. I'm from Birmingham in the UK. Again, we are all immigrants from the rest of the world, hungry people looking for work, people with skills and intelligence chasing a living. It's a question of what you want and need. Trees need roots. Human beings don't. We have stories instead. Or maybe those stories are our human equivalent of roots.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 13, 2008:

pg-- as always a trenchent comment. You illustrate my point beautifully. Thanks.

seohowto--good to see you and I'm flattered. Hope your son enjoys.

New Day-- thank you for stopping by--as long as you are not married to the mob LOL. Yes I kinda think our patchcwork is special.

and Steph--fabulous idea....a special family reunion for descendants of Daniel Boone who are also members of HubpagesLOL I love it too...brilliant!

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on June 13, 2008:

So Amy, Shadesbreath and I should have a family reunion this summer! LOL!! Love it! :-)

New Day from Western United States on June 13, 2008:

What a thoughtprovoking Hub! I wish I knew more about my family's lineage. I know that we have some Italian blood. Maybe I am related to the Mob. LOL. Interesting to consider how the United States celebrates all these cultures and traditions of other countries, but you don't see that the same in other places.

seohowto from Bay Area, CA on June 13, 2008:

Thanks, Robie for the great hub. I am going to show it to my 7 y.o. son, he will be definitely interested in reading it!

pgrundy on June 13, 2008:

Great hub robie2! In the calll center, I talk to Asians, Mexicans, Cubans, Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, and more, all first generation Americans. Our phone menu has an option for Spanish or Polish, and we can get any other language interpeter in a matter of minutes. What is shocking is how many people call and are angry about the offering of Spanish, Polish, and other languages. I can see their names on their accounts, and, you know, it's not like they are Ojibway or Iriquois, but they put out all this attitude about 'foreigners'.

Most of us started out as foreigners. I celebrate that. It's wonderful. Thanks again for this!

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 13, 2008:

Hi Nathan and thanks for your comment. I just checked out your blog--very nice:-)

Hello Shadesbreath. that diary is amazing. It runs 400 pages--hand written with the "s" that looks like "f". The guy who wrote it was born in kentucky and ended up in Indiana and the day by day descriptions of life on the frontier are amazing. I need to have it rebound by someone who knows what they are doing......and hey, that Daniel Boone was a busy boy, wasn't he ;-)

Cj--good to see you and bow wow back-- one mutt to another. Thanks for a terrific comment.

cjcs from Albuquerque, NM on June 13, 2008:

I'm always frustrated on forms when they ask for ethnicity and "American" isn't a choice. I have ancestors going back at least a couple of hundred years on both sides of the family. In fact, for the southwestern branch, the US adopted emigration necessary :-)

While I like to play a little with my various heritages, the fact of the matter is that I'm just a plain ol' American mutt... and as Bill Murray's character said in Stripes: "But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more lovable than the mutt." So to my fellow mixes, I lift my glass and say unto you a very heartfelt, "Bow-wow."

'course, then the thoroughbreds from overseas come over, that's way cool, too. Sort of gives us a little style, doncha know? :-D


Shadesbreath from California on June 13, 2008:

Robie, very nice article, well written and steeped in truth.  I can well see how that diary would be a prized possesion.  Wow, I can't imagine how cool it would be to hold something like that in my hands and read those words stretching down the corridors of time and bloodline like that.  So very cool.

And, buy it or not, the Anthropology courses I took in college all suggested that the native Americans themselves journeyed to America from across the Bering Straight on a land bridge.  If that's true, it means that the Americas really were at one point just an empty pot waiting for all of us to mix.  Just a thought.


Hah, Amy and Steph I'm related to Daniel Boone too.  Seems like the old Boone clan were a prolific lot back there in them Kentucky woods.

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 13, 2008:

Steph and amy--hi. Steph-- you snuck in there while I was answering the first three comments and left such a good one yourself. I love these family stories and I hope you are related to Daniel Boone and Amy too--wouldn't that be cool.

Amy-- it was you who inspired this hub. You mentioned being Italian and it made me think of the fact that all of us Americans identify with the countries our people came from--countries we may never have visited but which we carry in our genes. I like that idea and I am sure your grandmother was a princess LOL

Nathan on June 13, 2008:

Very cool article. I've got ancestors all over the place and I don't even know what to call myself but "American." It really is an inspiration how diversity can be celebrated and valued in this country. Let us be a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.

amy jane from Connecticut on June 13, 2008:

We are certainly a patchwork! This is a wonderful look at what it means to be American. Growing up in an extremely diverse area of NY, people always asked, "what nationality are you?" No one ever answered "American," even if they were born here.

My great grandmother used to claim to be the daughter of royalty. She said she was forced to leave Italy alone at age 12 because her stepmother hated her! She told lots of other tall tales about our family history too. :)

amy jane from Connecticut on June 13, 2008:

Steph! I have relatives who claim that Daniel Boone connection too! Maybe we are distant cousins 10 times removed. :)

Roberta Kyle (author) from Central New Jersey on June 13, 2008:

Hi Doghouse, solar, and Nana-- and thanks so much for your good comments.

Doghouse--yes we are the mutts of the world LOL and that is certainly our strength, isn't it--also prolly our weakness LOL

Solarshingles-- I love the phrase " only the wind knows where they were all coming from." very poetic. And yes, they are still coming. Fully 15% of American citizens today were born elsewhere. We are a nation of immigrants which will stand us in good stead in the years ahead, I think. I've always wanted to visit Norway--rich Uncle or not. It has a haunting beauty to it in pictures and I would love to see it.

Nana--thanks for your meaty comment. I'm afraid I am one who lays blame on the current crowd in Washington, although certainly not all of the problems are of their making. Their responses have been less than measured and the decisions in hindsight bad:-) But never mind. Life will go on. As for your brother in law, I have a childhood friend who married a Frenchman and has lived in France for more than 30 years. Even though her life, her husband and her children are French--and really so is she-- she keeps her American citizenship because it feels so much a part of who she is. maybe your brother in law feels the same way...just a thought.

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on June 13, 2008:

Robie, this is fascinating and so true! My heritage includes American Indians, Scottish ancestors, British ancestors and even (so legend has it), Daniel Boone! (my great-grandmother's maiden name was Boone. I had a boyfriend in college with stong Danish roots, and now my husband is Canadian. Talk about a patchwork! For this reason alone, I refuse to "check the box" on the forms that ask me if I am white, black, asian, or what-have-you. Heck if I know. I look white to you, but I have a lot more in my blood than meets the surface. :-)

Kathryn Skaggs from Southern California on June 13, 2008:

robie2 -

Thank you so much for this overview, of what it means to so many people to be an American. America, since her birth, has been considered by many to be the promised land. Thus, countless people have left their homelands to come and forge what was hoped for as a new and better life. Never because they wanted to leave that which they knew and loved, but times were tough.

Today, many are critical of the United States because it is beyond thriving. Yes, there are many problems, depending on one's political persuasions. I am not one, who places that blame upon the head of soley one person.

All Americans are recipients of a great heritage, of which we each need to take part in - to bring about more good in the land.

I have always found it quite interesting though, that many come from their own Countries to have residence in the United States, but do not have citizenship as a choice to not pursue, or cannot obtain it, yet - they will spend much time being critical of our government.

I am not sure why this is, if this is considered a good place to stay? Why would they not put themselves in a position to vote and have their voices heard?

I have a brother-in-law, who falls into this category. It is difficult to listen to him at times as he dogs America, and yet he has been here for almost 30 years with no intention of going back "home"? Very puzzling to me? Are these people still saying by their presence here, that even with all our problems, we are still the promised land?

Great Hub:-)



solarshingles from london on June 13, 2008:

Robie, what an interesting hub about the almost unlimited places of origins of American people. Only the wind knows from where they were all coming from. Yet, this vast land is still open for hundreds of thousands every year. Your last sentence could be quite possible these days. Norway is a very rare country with an astonishing surplus of cash. They have really serious problems how to spend all those hundreds of extra $billions, because their leader is not a crook like other top politicians. Maybe, a visit to your uncle would have been a quite rewarding experience?

In The Doghouse from California on June 13, 2008:


We are truly a American patchwork quilt, aren't we? After all who really is an American? A literal "Heinz 57" or possibly the "Mutts" of the world, is our breed. But in those titles alone, we are survivors, scrappers, and we adapt to change. Yes, that is what Americans are really like to me. My ancestors came from Europe to America in search of the "American Dream", freedom and success. I still believe that dream is alive today, as it was throughout history. I am grateful for their pioneering spirit and for their desire for improvement, for I am the beneficiary of their courage.

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