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Every year I find something different in the Mountains of NC. Sometimes it is fun, or friends, excitement or exhaustion. This year I came back with more though.


What I found this year was family. Not direct family, this is not a blood vs water situation; I mean family within the greatest sense of the word. We are all connected, You and I, and everyone around us. We all follow common lines back to a single origin.

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Americans, English, Scots, Irish, French, Germans, Greeks,  Africans, Palestinians, Chinese, Australians. It doesn't matter what your name is, or where you come from.We have all made this journey together as a species and as a family.

On the face of it this may seem obvious, but hear me out. I have been going to these games and trying to trace my roots back to Scotland. Truth is I don't know where I am from. I know a lot of my ancestry, but our original European roots are a family mystery.

We are reasonably sure we are "Scotch Irish", those are two very different cultures inhabiting the same small sliver of the world. They may be close together but can seem like they are worlds apart. As far as I have been able to work out, my possible Scotch heritage places me in Clan Gregor. I was all ready to buy and wear a proper Gregor Tartan Kilt this year, but a question stopped me. 

Who am I really?

I could be Scotch, but then I could be Irish, or what if I am neither? I know I am American Indian, and Iranian, and German. Those lines are documented within the family, so why am I stuck on my United Kingdom heritage? Well; I have a love for Scotch and Irish culture, I love the music (yes even the Bagpipes) and I am fascinated with their history. I mean my history, I don't care if I can trace it back or not. I am no less Scotch than any other person. We are all part of the great human experience, we have gotten here together, and every step along the way was not only important but required, for the world we know to have taken shape.

Think about it, if the Spanish hadn't funded Columbus' expeditions (not here to argue human cost vs reward) then the age of American colonization would have happened at a different time, if at all. That would mean my ancestors and those of my American Kinsman would not have traveled here, the entire population of the Americas would be completely different. That gives us all roots that reach back to Spain. The same is true of any people. The Scottish were a required step on the ladder to my birth and development as well as yours.

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Why confine yourself to your home town?

In an age where we can check our ancestry cheaply and easily with a cotton swab and a postage stamp there is no reason to look for what divides us, we have enough of those things to begin with. Lets look at what brings us together. After all a house is nothing without the bricks that hold it up; and the bricks are nothing without the house. I think the real take away is not to embrace your Scottish roots, but to embrace all our roots; all the time.

There are so many great reasons to discover your heritage, but don't let it isolate you.


I can't help but to see the humor now. I have been trying to justify my love of Scottish culture because I like to go to a Scottish heritage event; which is held in the American southeast. By virtue of being here, everyone around me is more American than Scottish. Otherwise this event and these people would all be in Scotland.

So now I have established that I love to spend time at an American celebration of Scottish history; it makes even more sense. For what could be more American than embracing the culture and ideals of other nations, other bricks that hold up our own foundation?

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Is that not the foundation onto which the bricks of our nation were laid? We are a Nation of immigrants who have built ourselves a culture based upon the cultures of our Citizens. Thank God for that, I love the food that other cultures have given us, I love the concept of Democracy lended to us by the Greeks, the love of the land left behind by the American Indians. Most of all however, I love the culture that everyone has brought with them. The Culture that allows us to have events Like the Highland Games in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  

So if I want to be a McGregor I will be a McGregor.  Celebrating cultures is just that; a celebration of a culture. Its not an appropriation or strange interest. We have the good fortune to have a world full of interesting and storied cultures with vast numbers of people to share those stories and cultures with.

I promise myself that moving forward I will do my best to embrace more of our human history. We have so much to explore and discover about ourselves and each other. Lets make tomorrow more interesting by being more open today. So let's spend less time apart and more time together. With our friends, our neighbors, and our huge extended family.

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