And polls to pick the Greatest this or that are nothing more than popularity contests projected into the past.
And of course, none of those caveats is going to prevent me from making my own lists.
Here are my own 4 picks for the Greatest American. One of them would be very controversial in most circles, but I'm sticking with him. Yes, the choice says a lot about me. I also think it is interesting that 3 of the 4 I picked were murdered. Maybe that says something too, and not entirely about me.
So, who do you think is the Greatest American? Feel free to pick more than one and to make lists of runners-up. Among my runners up would be Mark Twain, Frederick Douglas, Susan B. Anthony, Eugene V. Debs, Franklin Roosevelt, Sam Houston, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Quanah Parker.
Feel free to add cultural, scientific, and religious heroes as well. I'd put Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, Willem deKooning, Frank Lloyd Wright, Muddy Waters, Billy Holiday, Lou Reed, and Walt Whitman on the list.
*Speaking of lists of Greatest Americans, I work right next to a forgotten landmark of New York that was once nationally famous, and is now hardly ever visited anymore, even by those of us who see it daily; The Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the original Hall of Fame. It now forms part of the campus of Bronx Community College.