What It means to be American


“What it means to be American is a pretty complex topic,” to quote my English teacher Mr. Olsen. I didn’t fully understand what he meant by that until I started writing and rewriting this paper. When first analysing the question I didn’t think much of it and I figured it was a pretty easy question to answer. This question however, is like any other question and can have many different meanings depending on the person answering it. I’ve heard it defined as having freedom or being free. According to a survey done by George H. Gallup Jr. given to students from 13-17 about what it means to be American the majority of the kids mentioned freedom in their responses. One fifteen year old boy who took the survey said this, “Being an American means being proud of my country and defending our right to free speech and the freedom to be who we are. I will defend my right to be free to the death.” The word freedom comes to mind when we think of the question what does it mean to be American because America is known throughout the world as a country built on freedom. The last line of our National anthem has the word freedom in it, “for the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” Freedom is a key part of America and is something we should cherish but it doesn’t answer the question fully, there is more to it than that.

Voting like freedom is an honor that you have in America. The right to vote is a very important issue that has been fought over throughout our country’s history. In the beginning only white males who owned land could vote, then it expanded to all white males, women got the right to vote in 1919, and finally African Americans got the right to vote in 1969. The right to vote has been discussed and critiqued throughout the years leading up to equal voting rights. Below is a graph showing the voting percentages from the years 1916-2016:

According to this graph over the past hundred years, the voting percentages have not gone above 65%. That number seems a bit small for the amount of debates and arguments made to get equal voting rights. Franklin D. Roosevelt said this, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” This could happen if the percentage of Americans who vote keeps decreasing, we only have ourselves to blame for not using our right to vote.

America is a great country with lots of opportunities, I am proud to live here and be a part of this nation. I am eighteen now which means I can legally vote and I plan on doing so. I believe as an American citizen voting is a duty that I am obliged to and that everyone should when they are of legal age. As I’ve learned throughout my study of what it means to be American there are many different opinions and answers to the question. Each person has a different perspective on it, and we each have an individual opinion. Voting is one way to be able to use your opinion, and I believe that it is taken for granted. Voting is a huge part of this country and it shouldn’t be pushed aside. If no more than 65 percent of Americans vote during a presidential election, that is a problem. We must make voting more of a priority in society and get the voting percentages up to a higher amount. If voting is the way we choose who is president of our country, it should not be taken lightly. Voting is an honor, and it is a major part of what it means to be American.



CC BY-SA 4.0 What it means to be American by Micah is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Kevin 1 year ago

    Yo Micah,

    Your blog has completely changed my perspective on what it truly means to be an American. At first, I thought that being American simply meant being a citizen of the United States. However, after reading your blog, I now realize that truly being an American means having a say in our nation’s politics. Everyone should vote once they’re eligible to vote because it will have a huge impact in our futures, whether it’s now or later. And you’re right, it’s a huge problem when no more than 65% of the country has voted. Thanks for the new perspective on what it truly means to be an American.

  2. Sophia 1 year ago

    I really thought your post about what it truly means to be an American was right on. I agree that vying is a super important topic and that people cannot ignore that amazing right we have to have a say in our nation’s politics. I think that to be an American means to use all of the advantages and rights we get from living in both a representative nation and a democratic nation. Both go hand in hand, and both have their positives. I think your essay was very good and to the point. Here is a link to a website that has to do with this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_the_United_States
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Tess 2 years ago

    Hi Micah, this was a very interesting and informative essay. I really liked how you used different sources and personal connections to establish your argument. I also agree that voting is something all Americans should participate in once they reach the age of 18. Being American and identifying what makes someone an American is very complex and the answer will differ for everyone, and I like how you made that a point in your essay. I personally believe that is what makes America and being American so amazing, we don’t need to conform to one standard. The beauty of all cultures and the identities of all people melting together to form one body of people is quite remarkable. I think you should look into the statistics regarding how many people vote in each age range. It might be interesting to compare the numbers. Here is a link that can provide you with further information. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/blogs/random-samplings/2017/05/voting_in_america.html

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Youth Voices is an open publishing platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.

CC BY-SA 4.0All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


We welcome new members. You can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Missions on Youth Voices

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account