Did you know we live in the United States of Henry? Well, we would have if Vespucci, the explorer that gave his name to the “new world” continents, had been English instead of Italian. The name Amerigo was the Italian version of the Hungarian saint name Emeric, a prince of Hungary who died in 1021. The same name became Emrik, then Enrick, then Heinrich as it traveled across northern Europe. In England it is known as Henry. So Amerigo Vespucci would have been known as Henry if he had been English.
I know what you are thinking. North Henry just doesn’t work as the name of a continent. It would not have been accepted as the name on maps.
I really can’t imagine what America would be called if history had not worked out the way it did. Aside from some trivial wondering, it doesn’t really matter. The name has come to mean what it does because many people have acted in certain ways to make it gain its present meaning.
We are who we are because of what we do, not because of a name placed on a piece of paper.
In July, we will hear “God Bless America” quite often I am sure. That song will conjure up many different feelings in people. Some may be thinking God should bless us because we deserve it. Others are thinking God should bless us because we need it. Whichever thoughts you have, it is appropriate to ask God’s blessings on our country.
We can’t rewrite history. We have enough history as a nation to evaluate our founding principles. Equal human rights is a founding principle that is still being worked out. Majority rule while still protecting the rights of minorities is another principle that still seems to be a struggle. Checks and balances and separation of powers in the branches of government are principles that are constantly being challenged and refined. We struggle to fulfill our vision of America, but still “God Bless America” is a good prayer.