Hard work is an American value that has been extremely important throughout history. It is the backbone behind the achievement of all other important values, like freedom, patriotism, diversity, and equality. Hard work being an important American value is often underestimated and forgotten. America is often described as the “land of opportunity,” but not everyone benefits from the opportunity in the country and most people are able to achieve great things with hard work. Many of today’s youth and even some adults seem to overlook this value, and they have forgotten how hard work helped people in the past to make this country what it is today. From the young children who had to work in harsh conditions of factories to help provide food for their families, to all the brave men and women who have fought in wars to protect American values. Freedom, patriotism and success, which are more often thought of as the “key American values,” are important values in American culture, but hard work is ingrained in all of those values and without hard work it seems like those other values might disappear. While other American values have been altered or lost at times, hard work is a value that will always remain instilled in every American, whether they choose to utilize it or not.
The story of my grandfather is a good example of how his hard work was critical for him to live the American dream and benefit from all its values. He and his family were immigrants to the United States and arrived here when he was young. His father got a job, started working and taking advantage of the opportunities he had, but he died when my grandfather was only 13 years old. My grandfather started working at a very young age, balancing his school work with the need to help around the house and provide some support. When he graduated high school, he joined the Sheet Metal Workers Union. When he was alive, he would talk about unions and how workers had the freedom to organize to achieve better working conditions and better pay (Bevins). Unions really represent some of the best of American values. He worked his entire career at a Sheet Metal Worker. He worked hard to get out of the field to be an elected union representative from the entire Midwest region and worked as an international representative as well. He worked long hours and provided a home, supported his children’s and grandchildren’s education dreams, and did whatever he could for the people he loved. His hard work not only helped him and our family live the American dream, but he instilled that value in the entire family.
Hard work is the most important value because it is at the heart of every other American value. For example, hard work and freedom seem to go together. Freedom as a value is about taking great chances in the face of adversity, being able to say something that is not popular, and participating in elections. There are many great examples of these values going together in American history, from the journey by Columbus to America to the pilgrims leaving England to achieve liberation. Other examples include when slavery was abolished or women were granted the right to vote. None of these freedom achievements could have happened without hard work. Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Frederick Douglass are people who worked harder than some will ever work in their lives because they believed in the idea of freedom. Some of them even gave their lives for the freedom they believed in. Dr. King valued freedom, for it was the heart of the civil rights movement that he helped to lead, but it took his hard work and overcoming great obstacles to achieve freedom. When Christopher Columbus was only a teenager he acquired a job on a merchant ship. He called that ship home until 1476, when the courageous boy was attacked by pirates who sank the boat, the young Columbus found a scrap of wood and floated ashore to Portugal. In Portugal, he began to study mathematics, cartography, astronomy and navigation, these skills were essential to him finding the Americas (History.com Editors). Devoting your entire life or a massive majority of it for freedom or anything your passionate about is strenuous, but it is the only way to achieve success.
The Fourth of July is one of the most patriotic holidays in America. Most Americans celebrate this day with family and friends, hot dogs and hamburgers, fireworks, and red, white and blue. This holiday celebrates many American values and it is a way to commemorate what is thought to be our most important founding documents, the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence, written by our founding fathers, is often thought of as a gold mine of American values. It was hard work that resulted in this astounding document being produced as it was written under great political pressure that took 17 days to write. On August 2nd 1776, our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. “It was an incredibly difficult time for the young United States. For more than a year, Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies had been at war over the issue of ‘taxation without representation.’ The Colonies believed that their rights were being impeded by the British, who were levying taxes upon them without their consent” (ConstitutionFacts). On the Fourth of July, as we are celebrating with good food and fun, we tend to forget what we are really celebrating which is the hard work those first early political leaders put in to make our country free.
Hard work is an important American value that is often forgotten. It seems like it is also being taken for granted. People in today’s society have noticeably changed from the generations of their parents or grandparents. The value of hard work may be of less value and people are becoming lazy as technology improves and the hard work is done by a machine through automation. Jobs are being replaced with robots who do the job in half the time at half the price and this is resulting in the value of hard work getting buried under a wave of automation. The danger is that the hard work has been so critical to the success of all of the other values that makes America so great. Those values have never come easy and so if we lose the willingness to do the hard work, then all of the other values that are part of America’s history may be lost as well.
Bivens, Josh. “How Today’s Unions Help Working People: Giving Workers the Power to Improve Their Jobs and Unrig the Economy.” Economic Policy Institute, 2017, www.epi.org/publication/how-todays-unions-help-working-people-giving-workers-the-power-to-improve-their-jobs-and-unrig-the-economy/.
“Drafting the Declaration of Independence.” Constitution Facts – Official U.S. Constitution Website, www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/drafting-the-declaration/.
History.com Editors, History.com Editors. “Christopher Columbus.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/exploration/christopher-columbus.