What does it mean to be a good American? It’s a question most all of us have pondered at some point. Is it someone who went off to war to serve his-or-her country? Maybe somebody who takes great pride in the red, white and blue. Or perhaps it’s a typical person doing their best to be an upstanding citizen.
On March 16, 1942, just a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Omak High School student Benjamin Wayne Houston, described his interpretation of being a good American.
These were his words:
A good American has many, many good characteristics. The most valuable and important characteristics a good American can possess is honesty. He does not cheat anyone but then gives the other fellow the best deal.
He treats all the situations fairly and squarely.
A good American has faith in himself, in the government and in other people. He trusts them, always believing that they are being honest toward him. He puts all his knowledge into the better welfare of the public.
He is always generous. He does not try to be a miser, but he shares and shares alike, with all his fellow men. He helps the other “guy,” does some of his work when he is needed. He is not afraid of work but is always willing to do his share and a little overtime. He co-operates with the public and sympathizes with them.
A good American is not impatient. He takes his time and reasons out the different problems that face him. He has and preserves tolerance. That is, he endures offensive persons and opinions.
A good American keeps his promise. When he tells someone that he will do something, he keeps his word and does it. He never goes back on his promises.
A good American always does his best work, toward duty to God and his country. He is physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
A good American has good manners. He uses these all the time. When he is in danger, he stands back and helps the women and children out before himself. He always shows courtesy to women.
He is trustworthy. He is loyal to all to whom loyalty is due. A good American is friendly. He does not go around hating everyone but is cheerful toward all.
A good American is thrifty. He puts his money in to defense bonds and Stamps for the security of his country. He works faithfully, wastes nothing, and makes the best out of his opportunities.
He is brave. When faced with a danger he does not turn and run away but faces the danger squarely.
A good American is reverent. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matter of customs and religion.
A good American believes in the United States as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. He loves his country, obeys its laws, respects the flag, and is willing, at all times to do his part to defend it against all enemies.
— This article was submitted by Loretta Houston, daughter of Benjamin Wayne Houston.