December 16, 2017
What does it mean to be an American?
What does it mean to be American? Historian Philip Gleason once said, “To be or to become an American, a person did not have to be any particular national, learning languages, religious, or ethnic background. All he had to do was to commit himself to the political ideology centered on the abstract ideals of liberty, equality, and republicanism.” Essentially, what Gleason is saying is that all one has to do is act like an American and embrace the American way of life, but is this really what it means to actually be American? American means to have privileges, rights, and freedom. America isn’t perfect, but it is one of the only countries that have rights given to people of different diversities and genders.
The people in America are given something that not everybody’s given. A chance to be successful and to survive, and most countries are not given that chance. Being in America offers a lot to the people. Outside of the United States, many people would say that Americans are loud and obnoxious. This is because Americans have the right to do what they want, including a new chance at life. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Nearly all shared two great hopes: the hope for personal freedom and the hope for economic opportunity… a positive belief in the possibility of a better life.” Americans are presented with a second chance but most importantly, economic opportunity. Many of these newcomers came expecting to enhance themselves in ways that were not possible if they had stayed and not moved forward. This would have been seen as very precious to the immigrants
This leads us to the next important point – being American means that you are part of one of the most diverse cultures in the world. America is one of very few countries in the world where it is near impossible to define the nationality by one race, ancestry or religion. America is a “melting pot” of different cultures and religions and it is difficult to find anyone who does not come from immigrant bloodlines from different countries. In fact, some say that anyone not of Native American decent is actually not technically American! However, we do not use race or ancestry to determine what it means to be American. This is not what defines us, but rather our unique political, economic and social values. So, being American is not being of one particular race or religion. It may not even mean being born in the United States, taking the citizenship test and becoming a citizen can also make someone an American if they are able to fully embrace what America stands for.
When most people think of America, some of the first things that come to mind are words like freedom or liberty. We have already touched on this when talking about chances and opportunities, but freedom and liberty are very important in the American culture and are a big part of what it means to be an American. American citizens have the freedom to live the lives that they choose and are passionate about retaining that right which so many of their predecessors have fought and died for.
In conclusion, to be American is not as simple as being born in the United States. To be an American is about embracing the culture and way of life. Americans can enjoy freedom of speech and are part of a diverse and rich culture. An American is someone who embraces freedom and liberty. American citizens have the freedom to live the lives that they choose and are passionate about retaining that right which so many of their predecessors have fought and died for. In short, to be an American, it is necessary to embrace the culture and become a part of it regardless of where you were actually born!
Ian Yu Mr