On my last flight America bound, I watched three episodes of a series of documentaries on the United States. I deemed it fitting that I’d pick up on some history before I settled down. After we got a Roku for Christmas, I have been able to continue watching the rest of the episodes, and I do so every now and then. Although I love reading American History, and there’s hardly anything in the series I hadn’t covered in books already, it’s a fun way to summarize it all, and as a bonus, several famous people add some commentary along the way, which is a feature my Kindle has yet to offer. I can’t wait to finally read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ with some insights from Al Sharpton.
Anyway, the series is chronologically divided and starts off with general Washington going Vietnam on the English army (half the episode was filled with guerrilla tactics in dense woods), and moves along with the Civil War, the dust bowl, Manifest Destiny, and a lot of guilt-evoking images of native Americans being slaughtered or shuffled around the country. In every episode, the famous folks are eager to point out how the past shaped Americans. If we see a rebel nation declaring independence against a superpower, that’s the way we still are as Americans: hard working and never giving up. If stories are shown of the westward movement, and the hard working farmers that tried to master the land against all odds, there’s someone telling me that ‘that’s America: hard working, never give up, and moving forwards with hope.’ The Hoover Dam project? That’s America, if you just set your mind to something, you will build it. Hard work and not giving up.
If that is true, and I believe it is, then why is this a staple of American culture?
The descendants of the hardest and smartest working people on earth, bringing an enormous stretch of land to its knees, building a 363 mile canal with just shovels in just four years (1817-1821), conquering the Great Plains without conventional tools, and building about 325,000 aircraft during WWII, are now not leaving their cars to get coffee. And not just coffee either. There are drive through banks (you can even rob them this way), drive through pharmacies, liquor stores, libraries, marriage chapels, and funeral homes. Now, dear famous people telling me what to think, that’s also America. Working hard to never have to move again.