“America is another name for opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine providence on behalf of the human race.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does it mean to be an American? There is a difference between being an American and being an American citizen. Being an American citizen is being free and being born on U.S. soil. Under U.S. law, being born on American soil conveys U.S citizenship. Being an American citizen is knowing, that our Declaration of Independence says that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Being an American citizen is climbing and descending on the social ladder on the basis of one’s own skill, perseverance and work ethic, and not on the basis of government entitlement programs and hierarchy.
Being an American is much more than merely being a citizen. Being an American means that you adhere to the principals in our Bill of Rights. Liberty, the base of the United States, is the freedom to own property and to worship a creator without persecution from the government. Being an American is defined by all ten of the Bill of Rights.
As an American you have the first amendment right to freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the right to petition. Freedom is part of being an American, as is the second amendment, the right to bear arms. The second amendment right has been threatened with Obama’s presidency, but that’s a whole other topic. The third amendment is the protection from quartering troops which states, “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law.” Being an American is having the fourth amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure. “No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, with out due process of the law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” states the fifth amendment which deals with due process, double jeopardy, self incrimination, and eminent domain. The sixth amendment is trial by jury and rights of the accused. In the sixth amendment the accused is given the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, and the right to have the assistance of counsel for his/her defense. The seventh amendment states, “In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall otherwise be re-examined in any court of the United States, than according the rules of the common law.” Being an American means the prohibition of excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment by right of the eighth amendment. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” states the ninth amendment. The final amendment in the Bill of Rights is the tenth amendment which is the powers of the states and people. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the Stated are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Being an American is having the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, which were introduced by James Madison to the First United Continental Congress in 1789. Being an American is believing that America can succeed. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted by the attack because we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world” sad former president, George W. Bush on September eleventh, 2001. The Bill of Rights is the foundation of America and being an American is believing in America and America’s freedom and opportunity.