This I Believe

Thomas - Buda, Texas
Entered on September 8, 2006

I believe that we as a nation need to return to our roots, to remember our ancestors. We need to remember or grandfathers and grandfather’s grandfathers, who they were, what they dreamed of, and most importantly, how hard they worked.

America is the greatest nation on Earth. We have the most freedom, the best technology, the greatest lifestyle. We have created the greatest inventions: the telephone, the airplane, the computer, the internet, the list could go on for volumes. Our nation stands as the world’s only super-power. However, we didn’t become the greatest country overnight. It was born forth form the labors of the American people.

In the late-19th, early-20th century, hundreds of thousands of Europeans sailed to America, escaping poverty and oppression in their homeland. These people brought with them nothing but the clothing on their backs and the will to work, and that’s all they needed. They were willing to pour their dedication and their very lives into doing a job and doing it right. These immigrants helped build our tallest buildings, our longest bridges, even a railroad across the entire nation. America was built because of American’s work ethic. It’s what made us different. It’s what made us great.

On one of those hundreds of boats that sailed past the Statues of Liberty into New York Harbor in the late-1800’s were my ancestors, the Riellys. They were leaving their homeland behind, fleeing the Potato Famine that was causing the Emerald Isle to wilt. My ancestors worked hard to build up the Rielly name in America, working to support themselves, to educate their children, and they made sure to get the job done. They knew that the only way to do a job was to do it right, the first time. My grandfather sacrificed his adolescence to fight as a Marine during World War II, and didn’t hesitate a bit when he signed the enlistment papers. He worked hard, survived the war, and came immediately back home to work even harder to provide a life for my dad and his three siblings. Sure, they were never “rich”, but they never went hungry, and had clothes on their backs and a roof over their head. My dad learned from his father, built up the same hearty work ethic, sacrificing and working hard every single day so provide my mom and me with everything that we need.

The fact is our nation has lost our work ethic. Let’s face it: Today’s generation is lazy. We don’t work hard. We procrastinate. We waste time. We expect things to be handed to us on a silver platter with a sprig of parsley. Because of this lethargy, our nation is suffering. Buildings take longer to be built. Roads remain pock-marked with pot holes for weeks, even months. Educationally, we’re starting to fall behind other nations in the world. Because we’re all too lazy to do our share, America is starting to circle the proverbial drain.

We’ve got to turn things around before it’s too late, before America slips into mediocrity. There’s still hope for us. We can still stake our claim to being the greatest nation on earth. We need to remember our immigrant ancestors, we need to remember their dedication to doing the job right. We need to resurrect that strong work ethic that originally made us great. This… I believe.