What It Means to Be America

We all share the same dreams of success.

By Rachel LaFlex from Columbus High School in Montana

America has always been a country of diversity. Our ancestors all emigrated here from different countries. Some were farmers and others came from a line of royalty. My family is made from both of those. As we expanded, we became a country of many religions and races. The people who came into this country ranged in colors from the lightest of whites to the darkest of blacks. Religions of thousands were practiced in our boundaries. Although, some people had wanted to be all one religion and one race and thought any others were unacceptable. Time has moved on and our diversity has become one of our greatest aspects; as we are a country of freedom. But, it has started to tear us apart. We don’t think before we begin to point fingers at others for any wrong doing. We blame them simply because we don’t agree with their views or we don’t like their “kind”. In all truth, we have no room to point fingers. We all came from different places. In the words of Condoleezza Rice, “It doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you are going.” I believe as Americans, we all have a central goal we want to achieve. We work toward the same success and share the same dreams.

To be American, there is so much more than what meets the eye. All of us have a different yet similar definition of the American Dream. We come from different families, were raised in different houses and religions, and although all alike, we think differently. Many people say it is their freedom that makes them American. Others say it is a good family life. It really is different for everyone and that is because we have different values that we choose to uphold. In a survey done by Pew Research Center, very few Americans said that a successful career and being wealthy were essential to achieving their American Dream. While at the top of the list, their freedom of choice and a good family life were the most essential. Being able to bring your family up and support them is part of the American Dream.

Americans, all together, have values that we share. We all love our freedom and we take pride in everything we do. America is seen to others across the world as strong. I believe our biggest enemy is ourselves. According to former Vice President, Joe Biden, “Only our democratic values define us. And if we lose sight of this in our conduct at home or abroad, we jeopardize the respect that has made the United States the greatest nation on earth.” We should be able to band together regardless of our color or the religion we practice. Biden also stated, “You cannot define Americans by what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or how they worship.” Even though different, we share many beliefs. We believe that we are a strong nation. We believe our freedom and rights make our country great. We believe that the American Dream is achievable. We believe our families make us who we are. If we keep sight of these values, we are unstoppable. 

Columbus High School

What It Means To Be American

This group is comprised of Columbus High School students in Columbus, Montana. They have written arguments with the National Writing Project's C3WP materials to answer the question "What does it mean to be American?" posed by Mark Meckler in the documentary film American Creed.

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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.