Who We Are as Americans

It was a normal episode of the popular TV show, Jeopardy. One of the categories was Breakthrough Leaders. It was a popular category, and the three contestants were very competitive. The answers and the questions follow:

$200 answer:            She was the first female Secretary of State.

$200 question:          Who is Madeleine Albright?

$400 answer:            He wrote the song God Bless America.

$400 question:          Who was Irving Berlin?

$600 answer:            He partnered with Larry Page to form one of the most successful internet companies.

$600 question:          Who is Sergey Brin?

$800 answer:            He is considered the father of the Nuclear Navy.

$800 question:          Who was Hyman Rickover?

$1,000 answer:         He invented management by objectives and is considered the founder of modern management.

$1,000 question:       Who was Peter Drucker?

Every answer was successfully completed by one of the contestants. At the conclusion of the game, the final answer was:  Each of the people in the Breakthrough Leaders category share one thing in common with the host of this show.

The contestants were stumped and none were successful. When Alex Trebek revealed the answer, there was a gasp by those in the audience. The final jeopardy question was –

Final Jeopardy Question: What is they are immigrants to America?

We are taught early in school that we are a nation of immigrants. We know about the Statue of Liberty and the migration of people from around the world to America. But there is a lot we don’t know about immigrants to America.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the highest recognitions that one can achieve. When you look at that list, you will be surprised by how many 1st or 2nd generation Americans are on that list. Why have those who are new to America been so successful?

Innovations in the U.S. economy are often driven by 1st or 2nd generation Americans. Why is that? STEM educators in our universities are disproportionately immigrants to America. Why is that? The Scripps National Spelling Bee is dominated by 1st or 2nd generation American children. Why is that? Our medical community relies upon highly skilled caregivers who came to America. Why is that?

Just imagine what our society would be like without the vibrancy of those whose dream it was to live where they could be free? Just imagine what our national economic standing would be without the free market ambitions of 1st and 2nd generation Americans. Just imagine what the health of American citizens would be like without 1st and 2nd generation Americans? Just imagine an America without the blending of cultures in food, fashion, entertainment, religions, and most importantly: ideas.

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“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions.” – George Washington

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