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September 26, 2022

 

American means opportunity.

When it comes to the topic of “America”, most people think of Freedom. The video titled “Marine life in the Midwest” stresses the importance of patriotism, which speaker connects this to why we should fight to preserve the ideals of our country. Tegan Griffith first gives her piece of mind on what it means to be American, “When your country needs you, you serve”. In other words, Griffith believes that part of being American, is the ideals in which are the foundation of our country, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, is worth dying for. In another segment, Griffith states how she enjoys watching people protest, exercising their right to freedom of speech. Which she further elaborates on when she says, “Even if I don’t necessarily agree with their opinions, I appreciate them because that freedom is the fabric of my uniform.” I believe this source portrays America as “a city on a hill”, and implies that it’s an honor to ensure the rights of American citizens.

In contrast, a clip from “The Newsroom” suggests why people shouldn’t take pride in being American. During a press conference, the main character, Will McAvoy is asked a simple question, “Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world? The woman to his right says, “diversity and opportunity.” The other says, “Freedom, and Freedom.” Mcvoy answers with it’s not, “You’re going to tell students that America is so star spangled awesome, that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? … 180 of them have freedom!” He then goes on to list every single statistic that we aren’t first in, which is almost every single one. While McAvoy doesn’t share the popular opinion, he only states facts, which makes his argument especially more powerful when exposing blind patriotism. Simply put, the author believes that America was great when we were working towards ideals. However, currently, our nation’s progress has slowed, as if the problem has been solved.

In my opinion, the question, “What does it mean to be American?” Is poorly written. You can’t group an entire country under one word as diverse as America. While the first source says America is great, and the other says there’s more work to be done, my family has a different experience. For me, being American is having the opportunity to get somewhere in life, if you work hard enough. My Dad immigrated here after fleeing the Khmer Rouge. He always stresses that opportunity is a privilege and how lucky I am to choose the direction of my life. I believe that you don’t have to be American born, to have an American experience. I think any story that’s been influenced by being in America, or American people, is American literature.


What Do We Believe in?

What exactly is American creed? American creed is subjective; it is based on the individual’s cultural background, personal experiences, and beliefs, amongst other factors. As a Korean-American, my unique interpretation of America’s system of values is based upon the idea that anyone can succeed with dedication. I would define America’s values with these three: equality, opportunity and diversity.

It is debatable whether equality exists in America considering minority groups are often neglected. Even though we cannot definitively say that America has achieved complete equality, it is a fundamental value that has been highlighted throughout history. According to the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal”(US 1776).  This statement demonstrates how the United States was created upon the basis of equality. In addition, William Tyler Page asserted in the American Creed’s document which was accepted by the United States House of Representatives that America is “established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes”.

Opportunity and the American Dream come to my mind when I think of America.  In the past, people around the world immigrated to the United States with the mindset that with hard work, success was guaranteed. That is the old American dream.  According to Keuilian, the new American Dream is the “entrepreneurial journey that is unlike anything that has existed before”. He states that it is easier than before to start as an entrepreneur in America. He shows how lots of opportunities can be found in America in business areas.United States of America is a place full of opportunities.

In recent years, however, people refer to the United States as a salad bowl instead of the traditional metaphorical melting pot. The term “salad bowl” describes America very well because diverse cultures blend to form one great nation while individuals maintain their own identities and shapes. Like a salad, America consists of many cultures and values. According to Keating and Karklis, diversity is increasing throughout the United States of America. The statistics depicts how diversity is a big part of America- that is continuing to grow in importance.

Equality, opportunity and diversity: this is the American creed. The United States of America couldn’t be accurately explained without referencing these values. These values are not only America’s fundamental values but are also values that we should live by as Americans.

Citations:

 

Keating, Dan, and Laris Karklis. “Where the Country Is Becoming More Diverse.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Nov. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/how-diverse-is-america/?noredirect=on.

Keuilian, Bedros. “Why America Is Still the Land of Opportunity.” Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, 14 Mar. 2018, www.entrepreneur.com/article/310208.

Page, William Tyler. “The American’s Creed.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, 1917, www.ushistory.org/documents/creed.htm.

image from: https://www.thenation.com/article/american-dream/


Seeking America’s Opportunity

I believe in the opportunity of America. When I was a little boy, I had always been told that I was so fortunate to live in America because of how many opportunities you have here. My parents would scold me from time to time saying that I don’t appreciate what I have in life and how lucky I am to be living in America. I always would take their scolding with a grain of salt, not fully understanding the hidden message that they were trying to explain to me until my sophomore year of high school.

My world history teacher, Mr. Erdman, lectured the whole class about what life in Asia was like for the average person in the 1900’s. That sparked interest in my mind, thinking about my parents’ lives when they lived in Vietnam, before coming to America as refugees during the Vietnam War.

When I got home from school, I waited until my father came home. When he arrived I bombarded him with questions I had about his life in Vietnam, asking him: did he like it there? What was life like? Did he miss living there? My dad, overwhelmed with questions, explained his answers one at a time with me. My father said that he hated how there was no opportunity in Vietnam because the government didn’t want you to learn or do anything revolutionary during the period he had lived there. The government had a fear that the people would revolt if they were knowledgeable about the world. He reasoned that life was boring because the government wouldn’t let you do anything. For the final question, my dad explained that he would never go back and does not miss it a bit. When I asked why he said you couldn’t miss something you hate.

My dad retired upstairs to take a nap, leaving me sitting on the couch. I reflected on how fortunate I am to be living America, having the opportunity to go to college, having the opportunity get an education, and to be living in a place where revelation is welcomed. Now I fully understand the meaning of why my parents always stressed that I was so fortunate to be living in America.

 

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/opportunity/