When in high school, I was driving around with some friends when a man came on the radio, openly asking into the air who we, the listeners, thought the greatest American hero was. Without even a blip of considering someone else, I said, “My Dad.” It seemed like such an obvious answer at the time, and to some extent it still does.
Not only has he always had rather patriotic notions, but his actions always seemed to speak louder than words. Mainly, I saw this in the way he spoke about serving in the United States Navy. While he served before I was born, I feel that his time in the military has shaped my own life, probably as much as it affected his own. He taught me to respect my country and members of the armed forces, as it was and is through them that we have the freedoms and rights we do, and the ability to pursue our desires.
Mom showed me a different kind of American. She was the breadwinner businesswoman. I guess by some standards, she contributed to breaking the mold. It was through her that I learned that I, a woman, could largely contribute to earning the living in a household. She also showed me that none of the hard work required ever meant sacrificing femininity or beauty. Her disposition is incomparable, and her smile unstoppable.
Being home has showed me the America my parents embedded in me, and mostly without even trying. They have lived their lives and retold their stories. In the process, they have managed to show me what it is to be American.