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Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

By BRENNA WILLIS, January 18, 2022

What does it mean to be an American?

According to Google, it means you have the freedom to make your own decisions

about where you want to live,

where you want to work,

whom you'd like to marry.

To me, being an American means being proud of this land we call home.

Being proud of your identity.

Being proud of your education.

Living in the United States of America is a privilege, not a right

We so often overlook the people in our country who sacrificed

their careers, their families, their lives

so that we may wake up every day as free husbands and wives.

It wasn’t till my dad got deployed to serve in Iraq,

and left my family, that I understood the importance of gratitude.

Not just for our veterans,

but anyone who has dedicated time and money

to support our citizens.

It hurts my heart when my peers don’t stand for the pledge,

refusing to show respect to our soldiers and founding fathers.

All I can think about at that moment is the father who lost his only son,

or the brother who lost his sister,

or the grandma who lost her grandson,

or the child who lost their parent.

I think about my great grandpa's plane plummeting into the Atlantic during WWI,

or my mom taking care of a newborn and toddler by herself for 365 days while my dad was gone.

I think about the stress and long term trauma soldiers endure

that comes with seeing your friend bleed out on the battlefield.

I think about the dreaded news sent to the front door of mothers expecting their sons’ arrival

or the Gold Star families who never asked for that title.

We are a bruised nation.

So focused on the flaws of the other party, we often forget that we are essentially one party, Americans.

Being an American means

being brave, being proud,

being grateful, being free.

We are citizens of the United States of America.

Let us stand together as one.

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