American Identity

This is What Makes Me American

land-of-free
Land of Free and Home of the Brave

When posed a question about my view of my American identity, I consciously decide to take the question and use it to confront my Puerto Rican American identity. I’m a third generation Puerto Rican. Back in the 1940s, my grandparents came from the island, got married in the US and raised their families in Brooklyn. They, along with my parents, would eventually have their first jobs in the factories in Red Hook. My parents would eventually move out of the “ghetto” and buy a home in Queens– the one that I grew up in. Since then, thanks to my parents’ sacrifices, I went to private schools from elementary though high school. And thanks to my own perseverance, I’ve been an honors student through it all, so if that doesn’t showcase the American dream, I don’t know what will.

What it means to be an American is bettering yourself and the lives of those around you. Differences are accepted and if there are problems, we do our best to solve them.

“Before the Civil War, the states were all separate. People used to say “the United States are…” It wasn’t until the war ended that people started saying “the United States is…” Under Lincoln, we became one nation.” – Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage), from the movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Here in America, with all it’s problems, we are still better off than nations around the world. The poor little island of Puerto Rico has its own anthem, flag and carries a pride in itself that I was raised to carry in myself, but it is not free country. It is a Commonwealth protected by the US. While there have been attempts for it to break free and become its own nation and other opposing ideas to make it the 51st state; it is often brushed to the side and forgotten. It has the least rights which is why businesses are closing, the island is in debt and everyone is coming here. Here in America, there is a chance of becoming successful, opening a profitable business, and doing more than menial labor. If it isn’t a reality for you, it could be for your children.

What is still beautiful about the USA is something Benjamin Franklin alluded to in his writing, “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America”. He wrote: in America, “people do not inquire concerning a stranger, what is he? but, what can he do? If he has any useful art, he is welcome; and if he exercises it, and behaves well, he will be respected by all that know him…” While this can be lost on some in our society, I believe that is what makes an American and that is why I think of myself as an American, along with all the other people who’ve traveled long distances and gave up the fabric of their past to enjoy a better tomorrow in a country where they are free.

American Sky.png
America the Beautiful

Image Credits:

http://www.germmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/maxresdefault18-e1441928039516.jpg

https://img.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed-static/static/enhanced/terminal05/2012/7/29/22/enhanced-buzz-wide-20045-1343617109-3.jpg?no-auto

Hyperlinks:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-rosenkranz/the-puerto-rico-debt-cris_b_7880796.html

http://waterfrontmuseum.org/red-hook-history

 

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4 thoughts on “This is What Makes Me American

  1. Nice blog! I love your writing style! Your thoughts are coherent and well organized! I also agree with your argument about Puerto Ricans and I do wonder: what do they identify as? Puerto Rican Americans? It would be a stimulating question to answer and if I was from P.R I’d have trouble answering that question. I am confused about your quote and I see it as slightly random because it has little to do with your American Dream theory, yet I do agree that people look into talent more than status these days. For example, being discovered on YouTube or singing/dancing on the train; this is also a big American trend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really like that you said that when people move here, it’s because they have the opportunity to do more than they could in their home country and if that’s not an option it COULD be for their children.I’m not sure if you meant it like that, but I liked that you included that. I think that’s interesting because a lot of the time, I hear people say “I did this for my children,” as if there is a plan already laid in place for them; as if there are certain steps for them to follow, and then they will automatically be able to do what their parents somehow could not. Saying that it could be possible for their children portrays the reality of that idea, that sometimes the parents don’t manage as well as they thought they would and, unfortunately, neither do the children. The hope is, of course, the opposite but it’s important to note in any case.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. OK– I am apart of your little fan club too! Wow, I really liked what you said– “What it means to be an American is bettering yourself and the lives of those around you. Differences are accepted and if there are problems, we do our best to solve them.” That is SO powerful. I believe this is true. It all depends on being the best person you can be!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great blog post!! I like how the images frame the post’s narrative arc, forming an opening (the sunrise, perhaps) and closing (the sunset, perhaps). Also, thank you for sharing your experience with us and weaving in the reading for class. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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