The Becoming of an American

Labeled for Reuse by Creative Commons 
An American Flag waves in the breeze and is illuminated by the sun brightening its colors in the blue sky.

Labeled for Reuse by Creative Commons An American Flag waves in the breeze and is illuminated by the sun brightening its colors in the blue sky.

Elections have drawn to a near close and many are ecstatic or pessimistic about the results. But aside from our new President-Elect, what does it mean to be an American? After all, is it not us, the people, who define “us” and not whoever was elected to represent our country? Are we not responsible for who we are and the actions we carry out? Is it possible that we define ourselves by the world around us?

Many people nowadays have mixed feelings about the meaning of being an “American.” So what does it mean to be an “American”?

“​American citizenship is a responsibility that requires us to be informed and participate when asked,” Physics teacher Brad Boyle stated.

In other words, as Americans, Boyle believes it is within our duties to stay informed upon the news of our nation and to act upon what the country needs. In many ways, that applies to voting on election day. Celebrities and stars are always promoting for you to “vote” on their social media platforms and websites.

It is another way of persuading you to “participate when asked upon” Boyle made clear.

Boyle also added, “Americans in general and our representatives in government need to do a better job arriving at consensus rather than focusing on “winning” and issue.  If fundamental problems do not get solved, we all lose.”

Boyle makes it clear that our government officials should begin to focus more on our real-time issues than on winning things such as an election or smaller arguments. Sometimes, as a people, we must focus on the bigger picture than the several smaller issues such as who wins the tit for tat arguments or whether we keep or remove the “in God, we trust” on our dollar bills.

Labeled for reuse by Creative Commons
The rear-view of a woman wearing an American flag hat at a crowded parade.

When asked about how we can all come together in unity despite our different values, Boyle responded;

“​In response to dire threats to America such as WWII and the 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States was unified.  Outside of that, we have increasingly surrounded ourselves with every stimulus that shares the same value structure as us.  It has become increasingly difficult to seek understanding from the other side.  As my pastor indicates, we all need to do a better job of ‘listening more and talking less’.”

So all this begs the question, has America really become a better country than what it used to be?

“America’s standard of living, technological advances, and the educational system have improved greatly as we have gone across the decades.  However, we have lost our ability to connect precisely for those same reasons,” Boyle elaborated.

So is it our responsibility to act for our country that defines us as Americans?

Is it our values which differ from others that define us?

Is it freedom of speech and equal rights?

Is it our government that so hugely depends upon politics and the voice of others?

Most importantly, are we proud of the country we have built? Boyle believes it’s about creating a better and kinder America.

Boyle insists the best way to improve our country is by making it more inclusive and appreciative. “​I think some of our current strife is differences in defining what it means to be a patriotic American.  I support all efforts that make America a more inclusive and kinder place.”

Former NASA engineer, Dean McCall stated; “I look at the example of Senators McCain and Biden, who were in different parties and often disagreed significantly. But they had respect for each other and were actually close friends,” McCall makes it clear that two individuals can agree to disagree and yet remain friends. “In short, being American means being able to disagree but still respect and appreciate each other.”

Air Academy Junior, Alexander Lau noted; “the most defining part of being an American is our national pride. Even when things are ugly in the economy and in politics, most everyone will say that they are an American.”

Furthermore, when presented with the question about staying united, McCall argued; “listen to each other with an open mind. The common purpose has, historically speaking, been a powerful uniter. We can have the same goal even if our reasons are different.” McCall also reflects upon whether America is better than it was one hundred years ago. “Neither. But certainly has not reached its potential.”

Meanwhile, Lau meditated on his opinion about being an American.

“I think one thing Americans can improve on would be how people are treated,” Lau added. “Looking back in time you can see the segregation and everything like that. It almost feels like that today.”

Lau then brought up another point concerning the world crisis of Covid-19.

“One of the things that I think all Americans would want is this virus over. Looking in the news it clearly shows that America is divided between political parties and what they say about the virus. Once more people start looking into the science of it, the nation will be focused on stopping the spread.” In terms of whether America has improved its methods over the years, Lau has something to say. “I do believe America has become a better nation but I would not say that we are a perfect nation. We still have a long way to go before that but looking at history it is clear that we have become a much better nation from its early beginnings.”

Covid-19 has been a big issue in our economy for the past couple of months and has been a true indicator that has tested our patriotism and our will as Americans. “I am proud to be an American, not because of what America is right now, but for the fact that the future is looking bright. America is still a young nation, and we can look toward the future of the nation and that is why I am proud to be an American,” Lau remarked.

On top of that, McCall ends his argument, “Being an American is not something to be proud of. Acting like an American is worthy of pride and I am proud of that.”

In other words, it is not the nationality itself that defines us as Americans but our actions that define who we really are.

Labeled for reuse by Creative Commons
A group of friends from different backgrounds placing their hands together in unity underneath the branches and leaves of a tree in a photograph of solely shades of grey, black and white.

There is no doubt in everyone’s mind that the United States of America has been deemed as one of the most powerful nations in the world. The land of opportunity and freedom of speech. So the question comes down to you, what defines you as an American, and are you proud to call America your home?