Dressler 1 What it Means to be American The official definition of ‘American’, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is very simply, “of or relating to America.” However, its true definition is far deeper than this superficial answer. A definite one simply does not exist because the essence of the term “American” is a sort of spirit that includes many different traits, which are primarily bravery, determination, and tolerance. The immigrants who have come to America prove that the word ‘American’ is well associated with courage. For example, years ago, English men and women hastily sailed to this brand new land so that they could escape their religious persecution. Rather than comply with the king’s religious edict, they preferred to pack their bags and embark on extremely dangerous journey to The Colonies. The farmers all over Europe, who were having incredible financial difficulties due to the potato famine, decided that they too would rather risk their lives in coming to America rather than live in poverty and fear of eternal hunger. African Americans, although forced to come and remain here as animal slaves, retained a will to live bravely and proudly, with dreams of eventual equality for their posterity, rather than suffocating to death in utter worthlessness. Even today, illegal Chinese immigrants spend beyond their entire life’s savings, to be smuggled in boxcars enveloped in complete darkness, in hopes that several months and thousand miles later, they will one day be released from their cage while they are still capable of breathing fresh freedom air. Each of these acts took complete self sacrificial courage and bravery to be successful through. Another common trait often associated with being ‘American’, is perseverance and determination to achieve a long sought for goal. Women and African Americans Dressler 2 both participated in a very desperate struggle to gain simple rights which nearly all other citizens of America had. Through this unceasing fight to gain what they deserved as American citizens, they finally won and obtained their ‘American’ rights. Abraham Lincoln had an unofficial education, but entirely through his own efforts; reading, studying, and learning about law and other matters, he built himself from a common laboring man, to one of the most prestigious positions the world has ever seen; President of the United States of America. Almost every individual has a success story in which they finally achieved what they wanted most through perseverance and determination. The pursuit of the ‘American’ dream, to be self satisfyingly successful and happy, is the thirst of every person comprising the population of America, and the spirit of being American entails everything that is necessary in striving to achieve such a dream. The different peoples of America can live together because they believe that they indirectly benefit from a common practice, tolerance. Other peoples’ dress, religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality, physical form, culture, heritage, and personal beliefs, to name just a few, are extremely important aspects of one’s individuality that are encouraged to be tolerated. As a result of having so many different types of people functionally living and working together as a single large and complex community, the nation thrives from the continuously spawned innovative ideas, which thereby provide each of us with the opportunity to consider potential ideas, situations, and solutions from so many different peoples’ perspectives that would otherwise never have surfaced. Every single citizen of the United States of America is living proof of a long lost success story. Deep in their dusty chest, a Family History volume holds a legacy of how their ancestors bravely and proudly left their previous lives behind them to reach a brand Dressler 3 new one, or how they endured but then boldly conquered an inhumane form of persecution placed previously upon them. All those who currently live in the United States of America have the genetics of hardy, brave, determined, and tolerant frontiersmen and women who embodied the American Spirit and thrive as a melting pot of different peoples living together symbiotically as a nation.
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