What is the American Dream?

Posted by Madeline S. Oklahoma
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My op-ed piece on what is, or should be, the American Dream.

“America is not just a country, it’s an idea” - Bono. One of the first things you think of when you hear the word America is the American promise. The idea that you can be who you want, do what you want. “Being American is to take where you've been to where you're going.” I truly believe this is what it means to be American, carrying your whole country with you.

I don't know much about my family history, but I do know that my parents and grandfather were in the military. I think it changed them, they feel disrespected when people drag the flag on the ground. Patriotism is a word I have heard all my life. I think it's a very powerful decision to choose to give your life for your country. I wonder how my parents could have made it. As Condoleezza Rice, the once secretary of state said, ”being American is recognizing that it's not just about you”. That is how they made that decision. They realized that it wasn’t just about them. They accepted that it wasn’t just about them.

America is very far from perfect. We have many dark blemishes in our nation's history. But we did something that forged the American name. In the War of 1812, many people didn’t agree with going to war. But they fought anyway.We stood tall, strong and united. We stood as one nation. We didn’t always agree with or like those we stood with, but we worked out those differences, and we made decisions for the good of our nation. We are not always united and on the same page, our history can prove that, but when we need to come together, we do.

The cultures of this country are very prominent in the way we live. We are a country of immigrants. We are able to celebrate our ethnic diversity. Not perfection, but does that really exist? No it doesn't. Racism is very much a thing. It is unlikely that we will ever totally eradicate it from our society, but we are slowly becoming more open. I have friends of all different races, religions, genders and sexualities. I am very proud of the diversity. We come from different places but we all want the same thing, the best for ourselves and our family.

This country has changed so much over the years. We have developed technology to live better lives. We are required to go to school. So many opportunities are given to people. I will more than likely use scholarships to pay for some of my college. We offer financial aid to those who can’t afford college. In my elementary school, we had this program where we quietly slipped food and hygienic products into the bags of kids who didn't have enough money for the things they needed. I like to think we try to take care of our citizens. We certainly don't do the job perfectly. The official poverty rate in 2016 is 12.7 percent. That is, in my opinion, way to many people living in poverty. However, we are doing what we can to help. We have many programs to give them jobs. Hundreds of shelters to provide a roof over their heads. So no, we aren’t perfect, but we are trying.

I am proud of my country. There are many things that need to be improves, but I am willing to fix them. The people of this country are strong, free, different, independent. We are American. Our ancestors came from different places. We believe in different religions, gods or you may not believe at all. We are free to choose what we want to do and who we want to be. I am proud of my country. “Being American is to take where you've been to where you're going.” I truly believe this is what it means to be American. 

Published on Oct 4, 2018
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