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John Voss Kelley 5th AP ENG-LANG 9/23/12

Who are the real Americans? The definition of an American takes on many forms. They could be based on citizenship, how they fit into the culture, and how each one of them goes about their day. An American is one who follows the ideals of the United States and accepts them wholeheartedly, which include freedom of religion, right of opportunity to all, and the freedom to pursue life as they choose. How an American is formed is a process of many paths. A natural-born citizen, what most people view as true Americans, is someone who was born in the United States of America or has American birth parents. These people have been granted citizenship from birth, and being born here is what many people to believe as the only way to become a legitimate American, that only people with American blood will ever be truly loyal. This statement could not be more untrue. In fact, every American, with the exception of Native Americans, is the descendent of an immigrant ancestor. Citizenship is a pleasantry bestowed upon Americans, complemented with systems of rights and laws that attest the foundations on which America was founded, by immigrants. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (Declaration of Independence, sentence 3). Even as early as 1776, Americans were considering themselves different from the rest of the world, when barely a few years ago they had been called English Colonists. These are facts too often most Americans forget, that there is no such thing as the perfect America, or American.

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The terminology of an American has changed greatly over time, through changes in governmental, economic and cultural developments. For example, over the years Americans have come to rely on more federalized government, which focuses on more power at the national level versus the state, and local government. The more federalized government has made many changes to the constitution that originally made up the United States system of laws, which define how we live our lives as Americans. In most cases, the changes to the constitution have been for the better of the American people. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.-(13th Amendment to the US Constitution). This simple document made equality closer for the reach of others by declaring slavery illegal. This great leap forward in restoring the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which applies to all Americans, reflects changes in American culture as well. American culture has changed drastically as well, from being an almost completely fundamentalist way of thinking, to becoming more and more secular in the growing progressive world. An American is more than just lucky to have what he has, to be in a house with four walls and a roof, and to have a meal three times a day. Americans have such great fortune, fortune unlike most other countries in the world, and it is lost upon them. Americans do not realize the abundance of wealth and opportunities that they possess, as a result of years of bliss and ignorance of the world outside the United States. Americans take many things for granted, even the basic freedoms such as freedom of religion, speech and the ability to succeed beyond ones origins. Americans have the unparalleled ability to make themselves greater than they started out as. In many other countries, if is often difficult to rise above the social status that is

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predetermined by your parents wealth and influence While these liberties are precious to Americans that so many have died for them, still many Americans dont appreciate what they have. Many people who are not Americans would give up everything they had, leave everything behind, to become someone who is free. Everyone is independent and doing their own works, and not being limited or restricted to certain ideas.-interview of how a woman in Afghanistan views America. In places around the globe, there are people who while not being citizens of the United States, have more appreciation of American culture and beliefs than the people who inhabit it. What makes an American is not the culture of where and when you came from, nor is it the piece of paper that says you are an American. It is the complete and total embodiment of the ideals of the American freedoms and opportunities that no other country in the world shares. While some aspects of being an American have changed, the main standards and values of what a true American is have not: that anyone who can comes to America has the ability and chance to succeed to their greatest potential.

Voss 4 Works Cited

Founding Fathers. US Constitution. Philadelphia, PA Congress, 1787. Print.

Jefferson, Thomas. The Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia, PA Congress, 1776. Print.

"P.O.V.'s Borders . American ID . Freedom . How They See Us PBS." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012