Sunday, October 14, 2012

America, Our America

By Miriam B. Medina ( expert author at Diamond Level at

America the Beautiful, America the Brave, America the Melting Pot, America has been described as all of these things, but which epitaph best describes this great country? Ask any immigrant who has made his or her way here, greeting the Statue of Liberty with cries of joy, and they'd likely tell you that The United States is the land of the free, the home of the brave, the most beautiful site they ever saw, simply because it is the Great Melting Pot.

How many immigrants struggled to reach the shores of the United States, to find their American Dream, huddled aboard the deck of a ship, packed like sardines with so many others just like themselves? Different people and different families from disparate regions and different countries, all with one common goal, one thought in mind. Let me reach the shores of the United States where I will find opportunity, where I can build a better life for myself and my family, where I can pursue liberty and freedom. While every immigrant has a different story and takes a different path to America, there is a single reason that so many people have struggled to reach these hallowed shores for so long, and that reason is what makes this country so unique and so great.

The United States is and has been an asylum for millions of people who have suffered around the world, at the hands of their own governments, at the hands of oppressors, and at the hands of cruel fate and hardship. It is fitting that the United States greets so many immigrants at Ellis Island in New York with the grand sight of the Statue of Liberty waiting in the mouth of the New York Harbor, a welcome sight for weary eyes, because America itself has always been a safe harbor in an endless storm of global uncertainty.

But why do they come HERE and how does this make America so great? James Truslow Adams coined the phrase "The American Dream" in the 1931 novel, Epic of America. This term has come to symbolize the ideals of freedom, democracy, opportunity, and the potential to realize material comfort. While we native Americans take our liberties and opportunities for granted, even with a sense of entitlement in this day and age, to many people around the world who have suffered at the hands of tyranny, it offers all that they could ever hope for, a chance. America has come to represent hope to many who simply want a chance to succeed. Through great effort and often under much duress, millions of people have found their way to the shores of America, perhaps not so much to realize the American Dream, but to simply have a chance at realizing it. They come here not so much looking for easy street, but looking for a fair opportunity to earn a better life, and that has been key to the greatness of America over the years.

We're not a perfect nation, and we've had plenty of trials and tribulations over the years, but as a nation, we persevere and we prevail, for the very reason we attract so many people, because we're free to be who we are, therefore we are diverse. It is our diversity and our desire to be ourselves that unites us with such a strong common bond. We are now a nation made of many great cultures, of many great ideals and religions, and it is this diversity and sense of earned liberty, provided to us by our forefathers and all of the immigrants that have united here to build this great nation, that gives us the strength to prosper and grow. That's why I believe we, as a nation, can get though any crisis, we always have before, and we'll get through this current fiscal crisis that we face now.

We are the land of the free, the home of the brave, and we are the Melting Pot, when we lose sight of that fact from time, all we need do is look at that great lady standing tall above the New York Harbor, as so many of our ancestors have done before us and as so many new Americans still do today. She's still a sight for sore eyes, still the embodiment of hope and freedom, still the symbol of the American Dream, and she'll stand strong and remind the world of this fact for many years to come.
Miriam Medina, a member of the New York Historical Society and National Council for History Education is website manager, researcher and historian with 14 years of experience. The History Box has proven to be invaluable to denizens of various prestigious educational institutions, writers, historians, researchers and scholars worldwide. If you wish to find out more about New York City's early immigrant history, please visit
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