Everyone has their own culture, and no one’s culture is exactly the same. Keeping your culture alive is important, because it preserves our personal histories as well as celebrates the fact that we are all different. Being American is being able to keep your culture alive.
We all have our backstories of where we came from and what our heritage is. Regardless, we all have the same conclusion to all of our stories, settling down in America. My family originates from Finland, and my great-grandparents migrated with a few other families from the town Kärsämäki to the upper peninsula of Michigan, bringing the last name ‘Karsama’ with them to represent where they came from. They built a small home, and started a farm to survive. Cramped inside the one bedroom, one kitchen, one dining room and no bathroom home, would be two parents and eight children. They would live their life that way, just happy to be in America. That very home that they lived in still stands to this day in our possession. It is passed down generation to generation in my family to keep the culture and nostalgia preserved.
Religion is a huge part of my family’s culture. Lutheranism was (and still is) the main religion that the population of Finland would follow. That is a part of home that my great-grandparents brought with them, and America allowed them to keep practicing it. In the United States Constitution, the First Amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” That line gave permission to all of the immigrants to keep part of their culture alive. Thinking about it now, that freedom of religion has come to affect my life, as well. I would go to church every Sunday as well as Sunday School and Catechism every Wednesday until confirmation, not to mention the holidays that we celebrate every year. I think that being able to practice the religion that has stuck with my family for generations is an essential part of my American creed, because it connects me to where I originate from and past family members.
Focusing more on my personal culture, art is a huge part of it. My family is full of artists, and we have all learned how to make art our own. Just recently, I was looking through some of my grandpa’s old drawings, most of which are re-drawings of cartoon characters, old-fashioned Mickey Mouse being his favorite. He would draw those characters for the kids in the family, just to see that smile spread across their faces. That’s exactly why I practice art. I love to create things for people and see the happiness wash over their faces with what is now theirs to keep resting in their grip. Some people think art isn’t significant, but I think that art (no matter who's your looking at) tells a story of what was currently happening in history, personal or otherwise. I can see the stories with past family member’s art pieces, which is a reason why continuing art is so vital to keeping our culture alive---to see the stories and events of past family members. Keeping art alive in my family is important to me, because it makes me feel connected to past family members, even if I’ve never met them before, as well as keeps our culture protected from dwindling away.
America is full of over three-hundred million people that are all different, but we all have our backstories and personal cultures. I celebrate my culture through practicing Lutheranism, creating art, and visiting the home that my family built when they first came to America to survive. Being American is being able to keep your culture alive.