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What kind of Americans are we?

The ongoing election caused me to reread a required essay for Social Studies that I wrote when I was in high school in 1948. Our title was: ”What Kind of an American Am I?” This is what I wrote:

I am an American citizen. I live in a small town and attend one of the smaller high schools in my area. In all ways, I am just a typical American. Yet, what kind of an American am I? Am I a person who can rightfully claim the title of a good citizen? Do I appreciate what the government is doing and has done for me? Do I know my country’s history and realize I have rights that people in other countries cannot claim? These questions require more than just the usual yes or no answers. They require careful thought and should probably cause a desire in me to make myself more appreciative of the opportunities and advantages that are mine.

I am offered all kinds of freedoms and receive the benefits from these. What are these freedoms? I cannot be expected to appreciate them fully if I do not know what they are. The general definition of freedom is the opportunity to develop in the fullest and best way one’s faculties and talents. When I wake in the morning, I am surrounded by all kinds of freedoms. I was born with them and have never known what life without these privileges would be.

Patriotism, honesty, respect, tolerance and realizing my responsibilities are all little traits which, if developed, would make me a better American citizen. A great man once said, “Patriotism in America is not a mere sentiment. It is an active principle of conduct. It is something I was born with into the world, not to please it, but to regenerate it.”

Thus, as an American citizen, I must come to a deep and full realization of my responsibilities. I must develop a fixed determination to do my part to make my country thrive. I must keep its roots nourished with loving allegiance and protect it from the poisons that arise from inward decay.

What kind of an American am I? I am a young American who is trying to realize that I have a wonderful heritage. I know I have numerous privileges that many people in other lands do not enjoy. I am trying to understand my duties as a good citizen. I have a desire to become that kind of citizen who will benefit his country.

Nancy R. Fox lives in Central Point.