Past to Present
My piece is a response to the second invitation, "How does your family & community history connect to your American creed?" After research and deep self-reflection, I have determined what my own American Creed is. It revolves around American principles and my family.
Past to Present
American Creed is a dynamic concept which is ever changing in the minds of Americans–at least that’s my personal opinion. I think that people’s families and communities help form their individual American Creeds. Children especially learn from family dynamics and experiences that occur during their childhood. Whether it's getting in a fight with your sibling, talking back to your parents, or achieving a major accomplishment, I believe that without a doubt, there is a lesson to be learned. These lessons are things that people take with them for the rest of their lives and become a part of their American Creed. The different communities that people involve themselves in are also places where people learn distinctive values which they take with them for a lifetime. On a sports team, one could learn the values of teamwork, friendship, leadership, and respect. In a church group, one could learn the values of worship, unification, and trust. Some communities that I am involved in are sports teams, church, my neighborhood, the friends that I hang out with, and I consider my family a mini-community full of people who I am most close to. The lessons I learn in my communities have helped me develop my own American Creed. A person in my family who I have learned much from is my mom’s dad. I call him “Poppop,” and when he tells his stories or even takes a subtle action I feel as if I learn something. All of the lessons he has taught me, I hold true to in everything that I do. Poppop has taught me to be considerate, to stay humble, to be confident, and to persevere, all of which are values which affect every decision or action that I make.
Let’s start off with some background about my grandpa, Poppop. He grew up poor in Dothan, Alabama, and succeeded in the public school system. As William Tyler Page stated in his written American Creed, “a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity” (Page). Thanks to equal opportunity in America, Poppop had access to free education. He went on to study law at the University of Alabama because of the hard-working mentality that he carried throughout grade school. Poppop’s success has meaningfully contributed to putting me in the fortunate position that I am in today, and I am grateful. According to a study done in 2017, only 32% of high school students in the Alabama school system go on to graduate and attend college for four years (Spencer). Despite the odds, Poppop had a successful college career. His perseverance is an admirable quality and is a key reason that he succeeded in school. Perseverance is without a doubt a valuable thing which I try and take after Poppop, and include in my interpretation of the American Creed.
America’s government, official documents, and ideas are something that people find incredibly valuable. So much so, that they feel the need to risk their lives in order to protect it. In his written American Creed, William Tyler Page states that “American patriots [sacrifice] their lives and fortunes” in order to protect the American Creed (Page). I am proud to say that Poppop served in the Military for many years, including in Korea following the Korean War. Today, there are some 18.2 million veterans living in the United States (Department). Each of which perhaps felt that risking their lives was necessary in order to protect America and its values. In the Northeast, it seems many people value money and success over service to the country. Poppop’s decision to serve in the Army is something which opens up my perspective of American Citizens, and their different values. The Korean War was a time during which communism was proving to be a threat to democracy, and Poppop served after the war to do his part to keep the progress made. According to American Officials, the Korean War was “a war against the forces of international communism itself” (Editors). American founding principles, which Poppop whole-heartedly believes in, were threatened during the war, and Poppop was happy to serve in Korea afterward to help keep America safe from communism. After hearing Poppop talk about some of his experiences while serving the nation I have learned to be humble because no matter how difficult something is, it probably doesn’t compare to risking your life to protect the nation.
In my mind, America and the values that it was founded upon are worth loving. Although America has its issues, the values espoused by the founding fathers are beautiful compared to most countries. Today, America is lead by Donald Trump, an extremely controversial president. Countries in Western Europe have “strikingly negative views of Trump,” whereas countries in Asia gave the U.S. “some of its highest favorability ratings” (Bialik). Despite the various views on Trump and other things in the U.S., the founding American documents and the ideas that were in those documents are worth loving. Those documents were generally written with good intentions. The Declaration of Independence states that people have certain “unalienable rights, [...] among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson). The founding fathers, after having just escaped the rule of Great Britain, wanted nothing but freedom, happiness, and equality, so when they declared their official separation from Great Britain, they advocated that everyone deserves to be free and happy. Poppop loves this country for the beliefs it was founded upon and chooses to ignore people and decisions that do not correspond with those beliefs. I too choose to do this. The values and principles on which America was founded are worth much more than any controversial politician, or issue which reveals itself. Through consideration, humbleness, confidence, and perseverance, Americans can be the best Americans possible while also staying true to the country’s founding principles. That is how America can be the best version possible, and that is also my American Creed.
Bialik, Kristen. "How the World Views the U.S. and Its President in 9 Charts." Pew Research Center, 9 Oct. 2018, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/09/how-the-world-views-the-u-s-and-its-president-in-9-charts/. Accessed 7 June 2019.
"Department of Veterans Affairs Fast Facts." CNN News, 20 Sept. 2018, www.cnn.com/2014/05/30/us/department-of-veterans-affairs-fast-facts/index.html. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Editors, History.com. "Korean War." History.com, 6 June 2019, www.history.com/topics/korea/korean-war. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Jefferson, Thomas. "The Declaration of Independence." Ushistory.org, 4 July 1776, www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Page, William Tyler. "The American Creed." Wiki Pedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Creed. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Spencer, Tom. "College-Going Rates for Alabama High Schools." Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, 26 Mar. 2019, parcalabama.org/college-going-rates-for-alabama-high-schools-2/. Accessed 7 June 2019.