From Ruben Navarette, San Diego
:I'm an American because I love and appreciate freedom, and I want people around the world to have the chance to experience it firsthand. When liberty is threatened, or when a tyrant preys upon the weak and defenseless, I favor sending in the troops to set things right.
I'm an American because I don't believe in isolationism or disengaging from the rest of the world. I agree with those who say the United States is the world's one indispensable nation, and that it's our solemn responsibility to be -- not "the world's policeman'' -- but its role model and defender.
I'm an American because my sympathies lie with the little guy (especially when he is being pushed around by the big guy) and because I won't stomach bullies, foreign or domestic. The country is most righteous when it defends the underdog and shows the world how to be tough and compassionate at the same time.
I'm an American because I reject protectionism. If we don't run and hide from foreign armies, why should we run and hide from foreign trade? Whether our competitors come from India or China or Latin America, if we produce unique and quality merchandise, we'll outsell anyone -- even if our prices are higher because our labor costs are higher.
I'm an American because I'm convinced that U.S. law exists to protect the rights of minorities -- racial, religious, those with a particular sexual preference, etc. -- because the majority can protect itself. And because I believe that institutions, if left unwatched, would often roll back hard-earned gains in civil rights.
I'm an American because I believe the U.S. government can't run roughshod over civil liberties and simply lock up people and throw away the key. And because I think that due process, including the right to counsel and to a speedy trial, should not be a casualty of the war on terror.
I'm an American because I believe in the power of public education to change the lives and destinies of individuals and entire families. Of course, the process only works if there are high standards, strict accountability for both teachers and students, and an end to excuses and low expectations.
I'm an American because I believe that, with personal rights come personal responsibilities -- to yourself, your family, your community and your country. And because I think that if more people owned up to their responsibilities, many of society's problems would disappear.
I'm an American because I believe that the future belongs to the bold, the optimistic and the hardworking. And because I'm convinced that -- despite the insistence by some that sinister forces are undermining America's poor and middle class -- the direction of our lives is in our own hands.
And I'm an American because I believe that immigrants are our most valuable import and that we should welcome as many as possible -- as long as they come legally. Contrary to those who get worked up over changes in culture and language, I see this kind of change as not spoiling America but illustrating the whole point of America. And because I'm not afraid to say that the real dangers are the familiar toxins of racism and xenophobia, and the arrogant claim that the immigrants of today are inferior to those of years gone by.
Three cheers for America! Follow the link to read the original article (complete with key point at the end, not copied above), and send it to as many people as you can (there is an email link there).