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What it means to me to be an American

Lorna Ross

As Memorial Day (May), Flag Day (June) and 4th of July have all passed this summer, we can still look forward to Labor Day and Patriot Day (September). Ask yourself, "What does it mean to be an American?"

That's what will be asked Monday, Sept. 11 at the Hobgoblin competition in Red Wing. This fun and free competition is open to the public; I plan on competing because I am a competitor and I think I have the answer.

I'd imagine to most people the answer will be family and being able to move within a free country to be close to your loved ones. Even though family is important and the red, white and blue represents courage, peace and justice, I believe there's something more. Something more than baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.

What it means to be an American to me are the choices, decisions and options. We don't have the "right" to complain or the "right" to be bored.

It's amazing to me all the choices a young person has in today's world, from their food choices to sports to music, dance, theater, etc. No matter the gender, just about anything is open to a young person.

Back in my day (the 80s), it was not common for a boy to try out for dance; now, it's acceptable and encouraged. Girls can now play golf and softball without being labeled as lesbians. People in other countries don't have that; others decide for them and they have to live with it. Recently in Saudi Arabia a woman was arrested for wearing too short a skirt and a cropped top. Jeez, that's a strict dress code! Not here, not in America. You decide your attire. You can decide how to wear your hair and show it off.

In American, we can decide how much money we want to make; women can own a business; and housing and land can be purchased. We can opt for education beyond high school in any subject that interests us. Of course, the only "down" side of freedom is paying taxes and bills, but hey, that's why some say "Freedom is priceless."

Even for the handicapped, there are choices. With the assistance of state and government programs, so much has become available to those who want to live life to its fullest.

Once you make a decision, there is no complaining—if you are unhappy with your decision, then you have the ability to change it. This goes for your work place, the vehicle you drive, where you live and the foods you eat. We are our own boss, no dictator, just us free to do as we please. Some might think that's a lot of pressure—wait, I'm responsible for my actions? Yes, in America, you are. You have the freedom to choose, decide and live your life how you want. Respect those who fought for our freedom by exercising it. Our American, free life is too short to live it unhappily.

Finally, the boredom, really? With all there is to do how can anyone be bored? We have more options than Lady Gaga has costumes. Once when I was younger, I said to my mom as most kids do, "I'm bored." She responded by going to the garage, finding an air pump, knowing me so well, handed it to me and said "There, never to be bored again." It worked, I found something to do.

Remind yourself on occasion or during one of these celebrations to not complain, especially about being bored. If you don't like what you have going on in your life, change it, you have that right! Live life to its fullest, love and have fun. Everything is temporary, so enjoy every moment while it's here, because in no time at all it could be gone.