Life is viewed differently from generation to generation. This is an excerpt of an interview with my Grandmother about our family and what it means to be free to her.

What does it mean to be an American? This question has many answers from many different perspectives. I asked my grandmother this question, and she said it means being free. Freedom. This is the answer that many Americans will start with, but the definitions vary far and wide. My grandma thinks it is the ability to be able to do anything (within the rules), and she is very thankful for the people that take the risk to let us keep that freedom. 

My family (on my grandmother's side) either came from Norway or Sweden, according to her, but looking into it further I have also found our family coming from Germany. When I asked her how she thinks the way we were raised would be different she replied with, "Faith. There would be strong faith. Family and church would be number one." With that question asked, it provoked my thoughts of what it was like just for her growing up. My great-grandfather was a "full-blooded Swede," and my great-grandmother had to go back to work after having five children. Their childhood was very strict. They weren't allowed to go to school dances, to the movies, to play cards, or even to a friend's church, which never made sense to my grandma. She still continues her life with great faith hoping to pass it on to her children and grandchildren. 

When I asked her why she thought our relatives moved, she thought it was because they knew God gave them the country for their freedom, and it was there for them to learn to work together to unite the country and believe as one. She thinks it was for them to follow the Word, but she does see now the churches falling apart across the country with children disrespecting parents and the disciplines that parents are now scared to use from the backlash of others. 

After our discussion, I asked her again what she felt being an American meant. She replied with: Being an American makes her feel humble and that she will continue to just try to be a regular American and appreciate what she does have and what she is taking in because she could be giving it all away instead.




Niagara High School Mr. Laarman's U.S. History Class

11th graders from Niagara, WI

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