What does it mean to be an American? Well, if you ask my mom she will instantly point her finger towards me and say that I am the definition of an American because I am the first one in my family born in this land. Yet, even though all my family members have their citizenship in the USA, I am considered to be the American because of the way I speak (in both languages), dress, and act on a daily basis. However, sometimes I do not feel American, especially when I’m slurping down a bowl of steamy borscht. When I compare myself, along with my Russian heritage, to my “real” American friends (who lived here for generations), I find it interesting to be categorized as the outsider based on certain values, traditions, and customs I keep from my heritage. So then, who is really American? I think the safest answer is that we are all American through legal documentation and the culture that we assimilate into; this can make anyone into an American.
In his essay, To Those Who Would Remove to America”, Benjamin Franklin argues that no one qualifies to be an American if they continue the ways of their motherland. He states that “Strangers are welcome to come, because there is room enough for them all, and therefore the old inhabitants are not jealous of them, the laws protect them sufficiently, so that they have no need for the patronage of great men; and every one will enjoy securely the profits of his industry” (p.464). Franklin encourages people to come to America if they are willing to work hard for their American Dream. Though it sounds quite appealing, this idea still sticks through this nation where many families (like mine) come to this country for a better life for their children. However, this idea is challenged by this year’s election, as the Republican Party candidate Donald J. Trump does not agree with Franklin’s original idea. This unjust idea will crush the dreams for many families that come to this country for a better life (that is why I believe it is extremely important to vote wisely during this election).
As a country we have to realize that we all come from somewhere else. It makes no difference from the immigrants that come into our country today and the Pilgrims that settled in the 1700’s. Since I get to experience the best of both worlds, where my identity revolves around my heritage and my current environment, I think the best answer to describe the term, “American”, is one who (meaning every race and religion) has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this great country – The Unites States of America.