How American Are You?

Very good friends of mine recently became U.S. citizens. Every time I think about it, I get all patriotic and I kind of wish I had been born in another country so I could become an American in a proactive way. I even wrote a little movie script in my head, in which I walk down the middle of that street in Peyton Place, removing a burkha and other oppressive pieces of clothing, to the tune of Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful.”

Simply continuing to be an American doesn’t seem nearly as meaningful, when compared to what Jonathan and Nicola did.

And what they did was take a test. Test, as in, they had to study, Nicola said. Even though they had lived in the U.S. for many years, coming here from England. Their son was taking AP U.S. History at the time, so they studied along with him and they all passed with flying colors. And then they had to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the U.S.A” and they were Americans.

But they must’ve been nervous about the test. I got a little bit nervous thinking that if the Arizona Tea Partiers have their way, we might all have to pass a test to continue to be Americans. And I goofed off a lot in U.S. History class in high school. In fact, my friend Diane K and I took it in the summer so we could free up our junior year for meaningful electives like A’Cappella Choir and Journalism. Everyone knows that when you take a class in summer school, it’s a walk in the park compared to the regular school year. I can’t, in fact, remember a single thing I learned in U.S. History, except that Mr. Quartini wore Farrah slacks in many, many different pastel colors.

So I looked up some of the questions on the U.S. Citizenship test and - wow. I’m afraid I’d be deported if I had to take it now. Want to know how American you really are? See if you can answer these.

1. What is the supreme law of the land?
This is not multiple choice, so you have to come up with the answer on your own. The answer is “The Constitution.” Sure, you know it now. But would you have been able to come up with that on your own? I don’t think I could have. I was thinking something more along the lines of “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” But that’s just me.

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?
Don’t tell me you knew this one. It’s 27. I could honestly only come up with a handful.

10. What is freedom of religion?

In the answer key, the answer is given as: “You can practice any religion or  not practice a religion.” There is no mention of being chastised by your Facebook friends if you are not Christian, or if you believe that religion is a private things between you and God, or if you choose not to be religious at all, or if you ignore their dares to claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior for all 565 of your Facebook friends to see.

Here are some more:

31. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

40. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?

41. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

42. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states?

53. What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen?

65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

67. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.

71. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

77. What did Susan B. Anthony do?

79. Who was President during World War I?

91. Name one U.S. territory.

You also have to be able to name your U.S. Representative and at least one of your U.S. Senators. I don’t suppose you could do what I do and blame your husband for making you move every three years as an excuse for not knowing who your Congressmen is. We were going to a political fundraiser recently and had to look up the Congressional district boundaries before we realized that the guy doesn’t even represent us. We were dressed already, so we went anyway.

I have new-found respect for Jonathan and Nicola for dominating the test and becoming new Americans. They really are an inspiration for me.

Happy Fourth of July. Now get studying.

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