The idea of national treasure(s) arose in the late 19th century as a part of the nationalism ideology that the nation as a fundamental unit shared the same values and culture. Right now, in America, patriotism (see also: nationalism) is at an all-time low according to a recent Gallup poll. There are multiple reasons for this, but I think it can also be attributed to the fact that we, as Americans, need someone to rally around that isn’t an elected official. We need to make a few certain Americans real, actual national treasures and we need them to get on their horses and lead us into our bright and shining future.
National treasures could change the attitudes of Americans by: appearing in TSA lines to remind us to take out our laptops before putting our bags through the X-ray machine, delivering the bad news of the day with a positive outlook, reminding us to get flu shots, helping us try on new jeans, telling us to be active for a few minutes each day, and serving as ambassadors for highway construction crews. Basically, we need these people to start appearing in all of the worst places to remind us that, hey– this TSA line is the worst, but this country is great.
In short, National Treasures must be of a certain age (we know it when we see it) and have been committed to promoting something other than themselves for most of their lives. Preferably, they’re into people and haven’t ever spent time in prison or appeared on “Dateline.”
5 Living Americans That Should Be Named National Treasures, So They Can Remind Us That America is Pretty Great:
Imagine: Your flight is canceled after you already left the gate and you have to spend the night in Pittsburgh, but Dolly Parton told you the news. Suddenly, you’re a Steelers fan.
2. Tom Brokaw, 76: journalist, author, rancher
There’s a reason NBC has been flying Brokaw all over the globe from his Montana ranch to appear on our televisions lately– we need him.
Imagine: Your credit card number was stolen and someone purchased $900 worth of crafting supplies in your name, but Tom Brokaw called you and said the company was working on it. Suddenly, you might knit a scarf or get into woodworking.
3. Mary Tyler Moore, 79: actress, diabetes advocate
Is there a brighter smile in all the world? And how many fictional TV characters get a statue in their honor? Pretty much just Mary Tyler Moore, because she can turn the world on with her smile.
Imagine: Construction on the interstate has traffic at a standstill for miles, but a sign with Mary Tyler Moore’s face delivers the terrible news. Suddenly, you’re gonna make it after all. You might just make it after all.
4. Joe Biden, 73: elected official, women’s right advocate
This is not a political play, this is an American play. This guy has been serving his country for the better part of his adult life. Most of his service came after a tragic accident that left him as a single father to a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old. Most people don’t recover from that, but he did and he usually had a smile on his face. Also, not a lot of sitting Vice Presidents make appearances on network sitcoms– he did.
Imagine: You’re at the dentist for your routine check-up, but it doesn’t go according to plan and you need several root canals, but Joe Biden appears to deliver the news with that big smile full of perfect teeth. Suddenly, you’re willing to get the root canals without numbing because, damn it, Joe Biden said it was going to be okay.
5. Lee Corso, 81: football coach, football analyst, mascot head model
You don’t have to like college football to love Lee Corso. Every Saturday morning in the fall, the world’s most lovable football coach dons a mascot head and does a pageant wave. America needs this. Also, he’s not afraid to tell people when he thinks they are wrong, even celebrities.
Imagine: Your favorite college football team just lost its 100th game in a row and there’s no end in sight, but every week Lee Corso delivers the scores to you wearing your mascot’s head. Suddenly, college football is just a game.