What It Means To Be American

Rebekah - CHARLOTTE, North Carolina
Entered on January 20, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

The foggy definition of “American” causes conflict because so many groups have a different idea of the term. The stereotypical American is envisioned as an Anglo-Saxon with a neutral English accent, who lives in a two story house, with 2.5 children, a dog and a white picket fence. This is an image that needs to be eradicated from the mind of many because it is not the only type of American found in the United States. The United States is a melting pot of culture and diversity, and anyone can come to America and be accepted as an American. The United States was formed by immigrants coming from all corners of the world and claiming their new home. The founding fathers were not originally American, but no one would dare say they were not. They built this country on the some very profound ideals centering on the right of the people. These rights are the foundation of the criteria that defines an American.

Patriotism is an important part of being an American because it defines the person’s commitment to and love for the country despite their birth location. Former President George Washington proclaimed “The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations (Washington).” Love for your country is extremely important so you can continue to make it a better place for you and others to live. It is easier for someone who has been born and raised in the United States to feel a perhaps greater sense of patriotism because, to them, America has always been home. Some people of other nations have even been known to claim being born American, but in the wrong place, showing that they see America not as a stereotypical image or as just a place, but as a set of ideas. They view themselves as being American, with all the same views and values of Americans, but their origins are not in America. Unlike other nations, this also illustrates how an American is not born, but is made. Being American breaks the necessary bloodlines many nations use to define its people, but instead, instill a strong sense of certain principles and values to create a bond among people to define what is or is not American. This bond perhaps brings people closer together for a stronger sense of patriotism because someone can choose to be American, even if they cannot choose where they are born. They choose to make America their home. Also, many families and citizens abroad still feel ties to their home here in the United States. For example, there are people out there every day risking their lives in the military for the betterment of this nation in other countries around the world. They seek not only to protect the people here, but the ideas America stands for such as the freedoms, rights, and democracy upon which this nation was founded.