Being Miss Maumee Valley

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

AmericanISM versus Idol

I have safely returned from vacation, which went way too fast! I am certain that the next six weeks will have the same rapid pace, so I intend to take full advantage of each day as I conclude my Miss Ohio preparations. Additionally, there are many aspects of my preparation thus far that I simply did not have time to blog about as they took place, so I’m playing blog-catch-up as well.

Yesterday when I began this post it was going to be about my Miss Ohio photo shoot with Gallippo’s, a major aspect of my preparation that took place months ago! However, technology frustratingly failed me, so I had to calmly walk away from my laptop, although I really wanted to toss it through a window… Anyway, I’m going to put the Gallippo’s shoot on the backburner for a bit longer and instead take some inspiration from tonight’s American Idol finale and share one of the essays I had to write.

I didn’t actually have time to follow the show this season and unlike past seasons, I had no personal interest, having not auditioned. I even missed last night’s final performances; nonetheless, I tuned in tonight to see who won. Ryan Seacrest’s comment about the show receiving more votes than our most recent presidential election really caught my attention. I had never really thought about it before, but sadly it didn’t surprise me. For other Blogs addressing the issue, click

Now, allow me to digress for a moment… those who are critical of, or uneducated about pageants tend to think that “preparation” consists merely of shopping and brushing my hair. If only it were that simple! Click
HERE for a preparation list I created last year. Upon rereading this list, I find it accurate enough, but it doesn’t at all capture the essence of all a Miss America contestant really has to do. People are often most surprised by the immense amount of paperwork that contestants have to tackle for every pageant they wish to compete in. While most of it, like the forms and nearly 20-page contract aren’t of public interest, I think the resume, platform statement and essays should be.

Back to the American Idol vote… Upon hearing Ryan’s afore mentioned comment, I immediately scoffed, “perhaps we should let our citizen’s vote politically by phone too!” As the blogs linked above point out, there are extenuating circumstances including registration restrictions and call duplication, but I still think on some levels it illustrates that convenience and entertainment are more important to our society than responsibility and Americanism. I find it frustrating that more Americans do not realize the privilege and responsibility of participating in our political process. Thus, Seacrest's comment made me think of the "What Americanism Means to Me" essay I had to write for Miss Ohio; I am inspired to share it here, as it shows both a glimpse of what contestants have to do and my personal views.

Read on below:

Americanism To Me…

"We must not confuse descent from disloyalty. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, we will remember we are not descendant from fearful men. We proclaim ourselves as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom where ever it still exists in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
-Good Night and Good Luck

Our current war-time Nation has developed a hybrid of Patriotism and Americanism that suggests "if you are not with us, you are against us." This very notion leads me to wonder what freedoms our men and women abroad are fighting for, if those of us here at home are discredited when we exercise our opinions?

In a time in our Nation’s history which is divided so stringently along ideological lines, to disagree with the authority is to be wrong and to challenge the status quo labels you as disloyal. But I refuse to stifle myself and my beliefs under these false pretenses of what our laws, government and Nation are.

I believe that my greatest right as an American and the truest definition of Americanism is ones ability to live and believe freely. What makes America such a great Nation is the freedoms on which it was founded. Our forefathers gave us the right to agree to disagree.

My ability to evoke that right, to petition for my beliefs, to openly support my political viewpoints, even if they are not the majority, sets ablaze the spark of Americanism that has burned within me since I was a flag waving child.

The stars and stripes do not belong to one side or the other, but to everyone who chooses to participate in this process called freedom. I have always known that to be born an American was something I must be thankful for. But not until recent years when my political participation began did I truly feel the power and understand my responsibility.

This responsibility is humbling; I have come to realize that we cannot simply be thankful that we are Americans, and we cannot simply sit back and proclaim ourselves the best among all nations. Rather to be an American is to embrace all the different cultures our melting pot Nation has, to learn from our past mistakes and to exercise our rights to affect the future.

I do not always agree with the political viewpoints around me, as expressed by our leaders, our media or even by my friends and family. However, I respect them for participating in the freedom to have such opinions, a freedom so many around the world do not have. I wish only that both sides would better realize this as a freedom, and agree to disagree, as it is through this very process that I most feel Americanism.


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