The Land of Opportunity

Posted by KS Michigan
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A comparison of the American Creed throughout my families history.

The American Creed is - in essence: the opportunity to better your own life; The willpower in which americans pursue that opportunity; The freedom to make and follow through with your own decisions. All of these contribute to an American sense of nationalism. Those born here are instilled with this mentality in hopes to succeed. Those born far away that wind up hear all share this mentality. Today’s Americans as well as Americans from long ago all share this creed, this establishment of opportunity, and a longing for it.

As a Caucasian upper middle-class suburban male, It’s easy to forget my family's past. My great grandfather on my father’s side illegally immigrated from Mexico. He swam across the Rio Grande into Texas. Once in the US he met a girl and had a family. He took such desperate measures, risking his life in hope of a new beginning. His Creed was that America was the best thing for his future - America held opportunity.

My great grandfather settled down in metro-detroit and had 8 kids, Emmanuel, Salvador, and my grandpa Juan along with 5 others. Emmanuel and Salvador were a bit older than my grandpa Juan, maybe 8 years or so. They had little to nothing at the start of their lives. The family shared a 2 bedroom home with dirt floors. The primary goal for them was to get through high school. When Emmanuel and Salvador turned eighteen they signed up for the army and went over to Korea. Two sons of a lower-class Mexican-American family went off to fight for the country they thought of as home. They weren’t drafted or coerced, they fought voluntarily, for what they felt was right. Both ended up dying in the war, together, as brothers, for their country. Their Creed was that they owe everything to America, the land of opportunity.

As soon as Grandpa Juan got his high school diploma he went and got a job for the Big 3 in the auto industry - it was the way to make it back then. He got into General Motors, he was a Hi-Lo driver - and he cashed checks on the side. The American Creed to my grandpa Juan found it’s meaning in education. A high school diploma as what he needed to grant himself the opportunity at wealth, or at least the middle class.

I suppose that nowadays, the same determination for success and self-betterment is one of the focuses of American culture, at least in the suburban Midwest. I’ve always loved learning, I’ve always gotten good grades, not because my parents force me to, I just feel it will better me in the future. Today college is the equivalent of what high school was for my grandpa. I feel that college is a necessity for me, the only way to better myself to a point where I’ve made myself proud. There’s no retirement without college, there’s much less leisure without college. College represents opportunity, hence it is my American Creed.

The American Creed is one of the things that unifies America and potentially even separates America. The country is more politically divided than ever right now, and we all see opportunity in different forms. No matter what end of the political spectrum you’re on however, Americans share a desire for self-betterment and opportunity. It’s what makes our American creed.

American Creed doesn’t necessarily have to be a purely american thing, it is a belief that can be followed internationally, whether it’s expressed through Americans living abroad or by foreigners hoping to immigrate to the US. Today’s Mexican immigrants want the same thing Mexican immigrants wanted back then, opportunity, a bigger wall won’t change their perspective. 

Published on Jun 9, 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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