What I think it means to be an American

Looking at the 196 countries of the world, there is one that sticks out. That one is America, with 365 freedom days and all the Super Bowl wins in history. Being American is more than just saying the Pledge of Allegiance and putting your hand on your heart. What does it mean to be an American? If you ask my grandparents, they would say it means getting the opportunity to leave Europe and come to a land of opportunity. If you ask my parents, it means to be as hardworking as their parents, because of all the work they put in to raise a family here. If you ask the average 20 year old walking down the street today, they might stammer.

Some young Americans don’t realize the benefits of having a Social Security number or having the ability to work in this country. While there are others out there who are fighting tooth and nail to cross these borders, some Americans are mooching off their neighbors, watching them work and reaping the benefits. Any given cluster of Americans could be full of people who are driven and grinding their way towards the dream, or it could be a room of people sitting back relying on other people to do their work.

Being American means having the ability to wake up each morning and decide what type of person you want to be – one who looks in the mirror and says, “I’m one step closer to my dreams” or one who looks in the mirror and says, “I should probably start thinking of a dream.”

For some, their earliest memories are dreaming of America, wishing for the day they could cross the border and wave the Stars and Stripes proudly. For others, their earliest memories are being stuck into an Uncle Sam costume on the Fourth of July, because their families are so rooted in America. For some, this country brings a second chance, an opportunity to start over. The miles traveled are nothing compared to the miles they could go in the land of opportunity. This country is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds and stories. As time has passed, generations have crossed and cultures have been mixed. Being American means getting the opportunity to tell your story, no matter what it is.

Being American means having the right to fight for your country or fight your country. It means having the ability to suit up in a uniform and fight the hard battle, but it also means having the ability to battle with words and speak out against what you don’t agree with. It means having the right to cast a ballot and get a say in how this country is run, rather than being forced to sit back quietly.

Being American means waking up each morning with a decision; deciding whether to stand out on the street and let your voice be heard or stand out in the fields wearing camouflage and putting your life on the line. The fact that we can wake up and say whatever we want without consequence and play a role in the day-to-day functions of our country and government is something truly incredible.

Being American means standing out from the rest of the world because we are all one out of 324 million, and each one of our voices counts.