What does it mean to be American?

During today’s Fourth of July festivities, I am stuck at home with the police scanner because everyone else is out of town.
I can’t venture outside of the scanner’s range, but I’ve had a lot of time to think.
I’ve spent most of the day watching “America: The Story of Us” on the History Channel so I thought about some of the things being an American actually means to me.
When I hear a voice come over the airwaves on the small portable scanner beside me, I think of how being an American means being like those dispatchers, officers and first responders who are willing to work while others enjoy a day off, and willing to put themselves in harm’s way to keep the rest of us safe.
I’m reminded of every military member who has done and is currently doing the same thing in a foreign land to preserve the freedom and way of life I’ve come to know.
I am thankful for them.
I am thankful for their families, which have made sacrifices at home while they are deployed.
Hard work and sacrifice have been the backbone of this country for 238 years, and they are two of the reasons America is great.
Surely it was a sacrifice for the Pilgrims who left England and boarded ships in hope of a better world, and surely it took hard work to make a better life when they arrived.
It took hard work and sacrifice to be able to declare our independence. It took more hard work and sacrifice to fight for it and win.
It took hard work to build this union, and — when it threatened to implode upon itself — a tremendous sacrifice to preserve it.
Hard work rebuilt America after four years of strife. Hard work made the nation smaller through technological advances, which also changed the world forever.
Sacrifice saved the world from its greatest conflict. A generation later, America — together with its allies — rose up and stormed foreign beaches to save it again.
Sure, America’s made some mistakes.
Slavery, the Trail of Tears and other flaws are woven into the tapestry of American history, but so is the sacrifice of those who helped further the quest for civil rights and help the nation recognize all men are indeed created equal.
America has been hit with assassinations, terror attacks and war since.
Through it all American people have come together with the same courage, resolve hard work and sacrifice which have been the country’s hallmark.
It is a hallmark forged throughout the country’s history.
It is the American spirit, and it thrives in the hearts of United States citizens enjoying a national holiday, fighting in a foreign land to preserve our freedom or keeping us safe at home while their voices drift through a police scanner.

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