Discuss how you feel about the words "I am an American".I keep seeing and hearing TV shows and online DB saying things such as "Americans are" or "Americans like to..." I then heard Dee Snider say...

Discuss how you feel about the words "I am an American".

I keep seeing and hearing TV shows and online DB saying things such as "Americans are" or "Americans like to..." I then heard Dee Snider say that the reason why we do not like the metric system is because we simply "don't like people telling us what to do". I think that, if this is the case, there is no problem; after all, aren't we supposed to accept everybody's differences and accept them as similarities? Can we afford the same treatment?

What about you? What is to be an American?

Expert Answers
carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am an American. Thanks be to God that I was born in the United States.  Luckily all of my ancestors came over to American in the 17th and 18th centuries, so my family has been here for a long time.  They came from Germany, England, the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, and France.  Each of the them was drawn here to find a better life.

From the American Revolution to the World War II, there have been men in my family that have fought for the freedom that we all enjoy today.  Each of them volunteered to fight for his country. This freedom gives us the right to do what we do without fear of government intervention.

My family came to the mid-west in the early 1800s.  My roots go very deep.  My grandfather was born in OklahomaIndian Territory in 1890.  We are not only Americans, but Oklahomans.

Unfortunately, there are too many people in America that have forgotten that regardless of the problems that we have here, our lives are so much better than other places.  In American, diversity is the name of the game.  From the color of our citizenry, type of geography, interests, religions--this is America. We are integrated with diversity, which has made our country stronger.

Volunteerism – When there is a need in the world, Americans will be among the first to assist. We may argue about our politics, but when there is trouble around, Americans come together and the world wants Americans around.

Opportunity – It’s still true. If a person works hard enough, perseveres through failures and setbacks, he can still achieve success in the United States.

John Kennedy said: Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.

That sentiment is why we have become the great nation of the United States of America.  

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are asking what is it to be an American rather than how do we feel about being an American. Being a first-generation American on both sides, I'm personally a little muddled on both these questions. I think the best illustration I know of what it is to be an American is the life of a man I know who was from my "old neighborhood." This mostly immigrant neighborhood in California was unofficially developed in sectors (at least I always supposed it was happenstance ...). Over yonder was the Chinese sector. Sideways over here, was the Mexican area. Back behind this way, leaning toward the Chinese part, was the Japanese section. Directly behind was the non-immigrant African American area. Right down the middle and spreading out in front of the churches and the Chinese area was the Prussians from Saratov sector, my sector. Well, that was definitely a digression.

This man I speak of is first-generation Chinese and was raised in the Chinese section; we went to the same school together, though a couple of years apart (I wound up working for him years later with neither of us aware of our past neighborhood connection). Anyway, his father died when he was in grade school. His mother died when he was in college. She had had a terrible financial struggle but had managed to get her four children into the local college. He became a stockbroker and is now a Vice President in a California bank (one that didn't close in this recent round of bank failures).

This shows in living illustration that what it is to be an American is to have a way up, out and ahead. Opportunities are available and waiting that allow a life of accomplishment and reward if you can but understand their meaning and how to access them. It also shows that what it is to be an American is to owe two debts of gratitude. One debt of gratitude back to government for providing and supporting the ways up, out and ahead. One back to society because prosperousness carries the with it the responsibility of sharing and generosity.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure that I buy the idea that we're all that different from everyone else.  I do agree with the previous post that we are more tolerant and diverse than some countries, even in the rich/democratic world.  However, it's not like there aren't other countries that are just as tolerant and diverse.  Canada is one that comes to mind.

In the same way, we are not necessarily more generous than everyone else.  Sure, we donate money to help people in times of disaster, but so do people from many other countries.  

As far as not liking to be told what to do, we're certainly not alone there.  The Brits are upset about their extradition treaty with us because it seems like we're telliing them what to do.  They also don't like the EU much because they don't want it to tell them what to do.

I'm not sure that there is much anymore that makes Americans completely different from people of some other countries.  I think that globalization is making more countries become similar to us in attitudes of various sorts.

All that said, I'mproud to be from this country.  I know I'm lucky to be here since I'm the son of an immigrant and I've lived outside the country as well.  But that doesn't mean I think that our country is absolutely unique.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am definitely proud to be an American.  The United States has an amazing legacy of good will, compassion, hard work, ingenuity, and many other praise-worthy attributes that I am genuinely pleased to continue.  Our culture truly is a melting pot--not only of races--but also of ideas, cultures, and strengths, which in combination have made us a strong nation, one fiercely independent and proud of its many freedoms. 

One of the aspects that I love most about being an American is our country's compassionate heart for the needy or hurt.  Even in the worst of economic times, the United States has continued to provide millions upon millions of dollars, not only from the government but also from caring individuals and churches, for aid and relief to countries either devastated by disaster, like after the terrible Southeast Asia tsunami, Haiti earthquate, or the destructive Japan tsunami and earthquake. 


megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I was born in America, but my ancestral identity was robbed and stripped through hundreds of years of murder and dehumanization of my ancestors. I'm an American, but there was a lot of bloodshed and sickness for me to gain the title "American." This country does have many benefits and it is certainly one of the best places to live when we consider what is happening in other countries, but you will not hear me say I'm proud to be an American, because I can't help think of the blood flowing through my veins and how many children, women, and men in my own family were annihilated under the justification of not being "American." I'm a black woman living in America, but I do not walk around saying I'm American because I'm judged and seen as a black person and don't have the benefits that non-black Americans have. 

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am proud to be living in the greatest nation on earth, but as a world traveller, I also recognize that there are many other countries that offer differences that would make the U. S. even greater if Americans would accept them. Too many close-minded Americans refuse to accept change or the belief that other countries offer positive aspects that are beneficial to the entire world; instead, these ideas will always remain "foreign" to them, and the attitude that the American way is the best and only way will continue to prevail.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While I am proud to be American, I do recognize that many people died to give me that title. Every nation has its history (both good and bad). As a "military brat," I find pride in calling America home. Both of children plan on going into the military. While I understand that some find the phrase offensive and negative, I still celebrate my nationality.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am proud to be an American, because I feel that everyone should be proud of his or her heritage.  To be American is a distinctly special thing because our history is one of independence and moral integrity.  We do not always live up to it though.  Still, I am proud of our history and uniqueness, and the traits Americans still prize.