What Does It Mean to Be an American Essay

America has a long history with people immigrating to America since the 1600’s. Everyone believes that America is this great country of hope and opportunity to have a better life where people arrive to accomplish their dream. However, others don’t have that chance. People who are citizens have a different life story, even though they do have to overcome obstacles, just like any immigrant. Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper entitled “an ocean steamer passing the Statue of Liberty” shows how the first Europeans immigrated to America in the late 1800’s. In this illustration, we can see by their facial expressions how excited they were to be in America, seeking a new opportunity in their life. So what does it mean to be an American? Is it to achieve the American dream? Yes, but it’s not only the American dream. It means to overcome all the obstacles that an immigrant or citizen faces throughout their life in America, while showing respect to the flag and country that offers the opportunity they have been seeking.

Immigrants have the most difficult life that anyone can go through because they are people who give up their lives in their home country to have a “better” life somewhere else. In de Crevecoeur’s essay entitled “What is an American?” shows how people from Europe left their home country for a better one. Back home they didn’t have rights or land. “In Europe they were as so many useless plants”(Crevecoeur 28) meaning they have no rights. “Two thirds of them had no country” meaning they own nothing of their land”. (Crevecoeur 28) These people who immigrated to America in the 1700’s were the one who helped shape America into what it is today. We can see this in Crevecoeur’s essay, It shows how the immigrant had a large role in America.“New laws, a new mode of living, a new social system; here they are become men.” Meaning that they were the one who help to create the new laws and mode of living.

Furthermore, to be in America, you have to show respect to the country. In John Sidney’s essay titled “Never Forget Their Duty” McCain was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam war and was shot down, seriously injured, and got captured by the North Vietnamese. It shows how Mike made an American flag out of shirts and they hang mike’s shirt on the wall of their cell and sang the Pledge Of Allegiance, “it was, indeed, the most important and meaningful event of our day” (McCain 7) meaning they never giving up hope for America. “We must never forget those thousands of Americans who, with their courage, with their sacrifice and with their lives, made those words live for all of us” (McCain 7) meaning these are people who sacrifice their lives for America and for us, so we can have our freedom. That’s why we should always stand up and respect this country, when the Pledge Of Allegiance is playing, for the respect to those who died in war FOR US.

Some might say that immigrants can cause more problems in America and criticize things like overcrowding, drug trafficking and threaten American culture, but really immigrants have a great impact in our society politically, economically and culturally. Politically, they have the power/vote to elect the next president, who they believe can earn their trust. Economically, some immigrants can manage to work for big companies. Culturally, they bring new food, beliefs, and language the country. We can see this in Kesaya’s essay entitled “growing up Asian in America” it shows how her family has a farm and they help feed other people, and since they’re Japanese they bring more culture, Belief, and new language to America. So what’s not an American? Someone who is racism, and disrespects the country and think that immigrants are more problems in America.

In conclusion, America has a long history with people immigrating here, since the 1600’s to today. So what does it mean to be an American? To be an American, it means you have to have rights and freedom. Thanks to the bill of rights and the amendments, that helps define what is an 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. Thus the universalist ideological character of American nationality meant that it was open to anyone who willed to become an American.” (Philip Gleason, “American Identity and Americanization,”) meaning we all don’t have to try so hard to be an American but to act like an American and embrace yourself to the American life.

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