Perseverance is an aspect that is crucial and fundamental in our American creed. Whether it is working on becoming an American citizen, immigrating to America, or finding a way to make an American dream become a reality, perseverance is the main thing that allows us to accomplish these things. In the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the entire story is revolved around the idea of perseverance.

The story of my ancestors and their American dream is truly revolved around perseverance. My great great grandfather, Abdel, walked from Lebanon to the coast of France  with his 15 year old brother when he was 12 years old. They walked for three years before arriving coast in France and hopping on a ship that took them to America. Abdel worked on a farm in Minnesota until he had made enough money to purchase his own farm. Abdel’s perseverance in walking such a long distance and finding work at such a young age before eventually starting a farm for himself was very inspiring.  His story is a great example to me of the challenging obstacles he overcame and how much perseverance it took for him to achieve and find a way of life.

In the book Unbroken, perseverance is a huge part of the book. Louie’s parents were Italian immigrants who spoke very little English, and Louie, against all odds, becomes an the youngest distance runner for the United States olympic team, a record that lasted for 15 years. There are many times in Louie’s life where he could have, and probably should have, given up and quit. For example, all of the times Louie ran with Pete and trained as hard as he possibly could. He could have just said that he was done and did not want to work this hard, but he always kept pushing himself. Later on Louie served in WWII and after his plane was shot down, he and two fellow soldiers were stranded on a raft. There are so many grueling difficulties that would cause one to give up, but he persevered and survived on the raft for 47 days. Being bombarded by sharks, shot at by Japanese fighter planes, having no food or water, and being stranded on an inflatable raft in the middle of the Pacific ocean are all reasons for one to give up and accept defeat. Louie persevered through it all. His next terrible challenge was being captured and held in a POW camp, where  he was tortured by a Japanese POW guard captain who tried to mentally and physically destroy him. The guard put Louis through physically taxing events such as races with other guards and holding a beam above his head until he dropped it on himself. After the war, Louie suffered with PTSD from what the guard had done to him. He began drinking and smoking to alleviate the pain. Eventually, Louie finds a strong and enduring faith and stops smoking and drinking, and forgives the man for what he had done to him in the war. I believe that Louie, deep down inside, would never let any of life’s challenges break him. He is one of the single most mentally strong people I have ever heard about in my life. To be able to withstand through all of the obstacles that life threw at him, and never be taken down by any of them is the most incredible thing, and I believe that very few people would have been able to live through what he had to live through.

In the article “The Persistence of the American Dream” by Stefan Herlitz, he talks about how many people have mentioned that the idea of the American dream has died, but responds with “The American Dream is not some sick, depraved force pushing everyone to buy the best car, television or phone available in order to be somehow ‘better’ than his or her neighbors. It is not a set goal people aspire to; it is not a job, a wife, kids and a house with a white picket fence. The American Dream is an opportunity. It is the idea that barriers can be overcome” (Herlitz 4). He also states the fact that not everyone is born with equal opportunity, but it is not about comparing yourself with others, but rather it is about being able to compare yourself with the you and your best potential. In that, the American dream is about being able to persevere, no matter the obstacles or challenges that are thrown your way, but to fight and overcome them. He finishes with, “The American Dream embodies hope, ambition and perseverance – qualities without which America would never have succeeded as a nation” (Herlitz 8). I agree completely with the author that the American dream isn’t a “mood” about how you feel, but an idea that will never change. That is what I love and is so important about the American dream.

In the upcoming documentary “American Creed” from PBS and Citizen Film, also focuses on this quality of perseverance. One of the scenes shows immigrants first becoming American citizens. Then a speaker explains why it is such a great moment for these people who have just become American citizens because of how they have persevered through the entire process they had to go through to this point and finally reached the moment they had been waiting and working for the whole time. This scene shows how the entire process of becoming an American is challenging but the reward is worth all of what they went through to get there.

All of these examples show how perseverance is a fundamental and crucial part of our American creed. It defines who we are as people and where we came from, but also where we are going in the future. Our American creed has many different parts to it, but the one I believe is most important is perseverance.

 

Works Cited

American Creed. Citizen Film and PBS. 2018

Herlitz, Stefan. “The Persistence of the American Dream.” Daily Collegian. http://dailycollegian.com/2012/12/06/the-persistence-of-the-american-dream/.  December 6, 2012. October 23, 2017.

Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: an Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive: Adapted for Young Adults. Delacorte Press, 2014.

 

CC BY-SA 4.0 Perseverance and Our American Creed by Eli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Eric 1 week ago

    Eli,
    Your essay is quite powerful; especially with the anecdote about your grandfather. It is a sort of challenge, a me vs. myself, and I thank you for clearing up the perversions of the American Dream from a purely consuming force to one of capability and potential. We must persevere, because if we cannot persevere, what can we accomplish?

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