Marching Toward our American Creed

Posted by Hannah K. Michigan
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I discuss the ways we can reach the original American Dream by communicating with those with differing backgrounds and beliefs, and by joining together to make our voice stronger. I also discuss how we can become closer to understanding our American Creed by communicating.

Wednesday, August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. Hundreds of thousands of people who originally had no voice gather together behind one man, and suddenly have a voice. This man gives them ambition and hope for their future. They scream the same phrases over and over in hopes that their voices will be heard. Together they march, holding signs showing their pride for what they believe in. You could see that the flood of bodies was full of passion and strength, full of members in society who are willing to do what it takes to gain the rights they deserve. They followed this man. Trusted this man to lead them to victory. You could see the vigor in each individual's eyes as they marched as one community down the road to triumph.

People have come from all over the world for many years to America in hope for a better life. Whether they were looking for job opportunities, religious freedom, or safety, these people believed they could find their better lives in America, “Land of the Free”. Now, America is an incredibly diverse nation full of many varying cultures, traditions, and beliefs which all reflect off of individual groups of people who all live in the same country. Despite this seemingly great accomplishment, problems have appeared. Many questions exist regarding whether or not this amount of diversity allows America to qualify as a true nation, because a true nation typically has many aspects of culture and beliefs that are selfsame with minimal diversity. This brings up an issue with our American Creed. When asking the question, “What does it mean to be American?”, you will receive an incredible amount of differing answers. Because everyone has different experiences in America, we can not settle on one single definition of the American Creed.

The biggest question that I hold considers how the points of view between diverse people can lead to a better understanding of the American Creed. This also relates to how those points of view can tie in with one another, which could eventually lead to a more united America. It’s no secret that the promise of equality in America has failed. Too many groups encounter racism and social injustice today, so I cannot agree with this promise. We have not yet reached the so-called ‘American Dream’, which promised opportunity and success for those who gave effort and were dedicated in their work, as well as freedom both politically and socially. Despite this, I believe that if we can engage in more interactions and conversations between people of different backgrounds, we could potentially achieve that original goal.

We can take an example from history- Martin Luther King Jr.- to explain how the sharing of ideas could lead to a more connected America. By sharing his opinions and thoughts and by leading the Civil Rights Movement, King was able to change the minds of other people who did not originally desire what he was advocating for. This shows how we can become a more joined community by just sharing our ideas and opinions with other people who have differing views. Let’s look back at our opening scene. It is 1963 and people are flooding the streets. The noise is almost unbearable. There are so many people that it is too difficult to move around. If you were standing right next to someone and whispered in their ear, they would not be able to understand a word you said. Communication between individuals was impossible. However, despite this ludicrous situation, the atmosphere is hopeful. And strong-willed. And determined. You can feel the positive energy around the crowd so deeply, it began to reflect off yourself. More and more people join the chanting and screaming. The flood grows larger and the voice grows stronger.

I, myself, have participated in marches and protests when I feel I need to make my opinions heard. The most notable one took place recently, the March for Our Lives, which was a national protest to take a stand against gun violence in schools on March 24th, 2018. It was led by students, teachers, and parents all over America. This march was a powerful moment for me. I had never participated in a rally so massive before and the stories given to us by the speakers were incredibly inspiring. I was brought to tears by many of the experiences expressed by both my peers as well as total strangers. My feet started to hurt and I was getting cold, having stood outside the Farmer’s Market for over an hour in the shade, but I didn’t really care that much. No, I was more interested in the stories of kids getting shot due to the out-of-hand gun violence that has been becoming exponentially more apparent in American schools. The idea of something like that happening at my school, or in my classroom terrified me, and brought me even further into the issue. I now have a greater understanding of the situation, which allows me to see it differently. Where before I saw this issue as a problem that I think is bad and that needs to be solved by protesting, I now can see that it is about so much more. It is about the lives of innocent people trying to get an education they deserve, and it is about the families of those innocent people, and it is about what we can do to change things- if only we could work together. Many people have expressed the idea of ‘power in numbers’. I absolutely agree with this idea, because evidence shows how it works. The efforts of the March for Our Lives allowed people to get their voice out and actually be heard instead of ignored or blown-off. The only way we could have done this is by working together and expressing our thoughts to others with different views.

So, have we reached the promise of the ‘American Dream’? The answer is no. However, we have seen many examples in history in which there is an attempt to bring this nation one step closer to being truly connected and accepting of all cultures and viewpoints- with direct and indirect methods. We can see how things like the Civil Rights Movement and the March for Our Lives were able to influence the way others understand the subject, and therefore how they feel about the subject. These interactions and conversations between people of different backgrounds or beliefs will lead to a better understanding of the large amount of diversity in America. Once people can wrap their minds around this, we will be a much more connected community, despite our many differences. If we can achieve this connectedness, our American Creed will be much less confusing and it will be considerably easier to understand. 

Published on Jun 12, 2018
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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.

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