The Defining of a Nation
"My country tiss of thee, sweat land of liberty...." These words begin a patriotic song taught to many Americans at an early age. They are also a good beginning for this essay. To define my country in its entirety would take a life time, which would be an impossibility in this essay. But it is possible to give a few characteristics that, to me, provide meaning to my country.
One of the greatest attributes of America is the people that populate its vast lands. From the beginning of America's young history, immigrants fleeing persecution, famine, tyranny, or looking for a fresh start at a new life flocked to the shores of this nation. Even today, thousands of immigrants pour into the land of freedom and opportunity so that they might have a better life that the one they left behind. The struggle for immigrants yesterday and today was and will never be an easy one. It is, instead, a long and difficult challenge that a great many will fail at. The fact that many early immigrants braved an unknown wilderness so they would have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their ancestors gives the American people their character, thus giving a definitive character to the actual country. This bravery of early Americans has allowed them to triumph over tremendous odds. The courage of Americans was evident as they triumphed over the most powerful country in the world in order to free themselves from a tyrannical government and gain their independence. From the beginning, this nation's people have dealt with extreme obstacles. As each hurdle is conquered the people become stronger and are willing to face the numerous struggles that lie ahead. This is exactly what makes the people of this country strong and determined to succeed. Thus, we are a country destined, from the beginning, to succeed.
Another important aspect in defining America is the government under which it has operated for the last two-hundred years. Compared to the history of the world; however, our government is still an infant. Despite this, the representative democracy, under which this nation operates, has been a model government for newly formed governments around the world. This may be due to the fact that we have become one of the most powerful nations (if not the most powerful nation) in the world. The Constitution of the United States has aided in sustaining the government and insuring the rights of its citizens. It has been the foundation of our governing system and has changed little over the past two centuries. Just as our independence was born through treasonous acts against England, so was this document born out of treasonous acts against the American government preceding our modern government. This was a government clinging to life support in dire need of saving. The Constitution, however treasonous, presented a cure to a government that was terminally ill. With this cure, a new government would be formed that would last to present day and, hopefully, for a long time to come. The words scrolled on this document encompass the meaning of this country through its government, and its principals.
Irony has been apart of American history since its beginnings and has served as a tool in shaping the country as a whole. Religious persecution in England caused a religious group, known as Puritans, to venture to America. Once there, they established their Puritan churches and towns and shunned anyone who was different. A death sentence was handed out to Atheists and Jews. A little over three-hundred years later Americans fight against a genocidal German army determined to wipe out the Jewish population. Not even one-hundred years after winning our independence from England America engages in a war within itself over the issue of whether a man has the right to own another man. We were one of the last countries in the world to abolish slavery and yet, even at the time of slavery's existence, we were considered one of the most advanced nations in the world. Another one-hundred years down the road children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of these same former slaves engage in another struggle for freedom in the same country that had fought many times for the freedom of others in the past, but refused to recognize the equality of the people on its own soil. Blinded by bigotry and prejudices, an American society refused to recognize that the same constitution that freed them from oppression works the same way for minority and majority, alike. Less than three decades later as the fires of a burning city burn more fierce, so do racial tensions flare as the verdict of a court case, settled by the same judicial system laid out in this country's constitution, is broadcasted by a press, protected by first amendment free speech, to a group of people enraged by the injustice of the decision. From the time of the first refugees fleeing from religious persecution over three centuries ago, to a court's decision causing racial tension and riotous outbreaks of violence, irony has charted the maps of America's past and it is this characteristic that helps to define this country even more.
As my home land continues to grow, it defines itself, each day, in a different way. The people change while a government grows in order to form a nation where freedom rings to those who chose to ring the bell of liberty.
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