This is America

Original illustration by FSSA senior art student Zelinette Estrada.

The hectic streets of New York are barricaded with protestors, some peaceful, others reckless, shouting, as their faces turn red from the passion instilled in them. The deadly shootings, the police brutality, the corruption, the president, the favoritism, the dismissal of important issues; the list goes on and on. America isn’t perfect, nor is any country, but there is something I hold dear to my heart when I proudly say: I’m an American.

With so much turmoil and controversy surrounding this once highly touted country, it has become difficult for many to express what they genuinely feel. Many can’t even seem to understand what they feel, as they vacillate between what they think is right and wrong.

As I hear the crack of noise seep through the loud speaker during our morning announcements at school, an awkward silence engulfs the room. We all know the moment has come, do we respectfully stand or sit for the Pledge of Allegiance that embodies the utter meaning of being an American?

Red, white and blue: a symbol of patriotism. Whenever I see an American flag, whether waving in someone’s garden or in the streets of Manhattan, there is an overwhelming feeling of honor that floods my body and mind. I immediately think of everything that America represents, freedom, independence, opportunity, glory and democracy. With media playing such a large and influential role on not only the young, but older minds of American citizens, we tend to forget what it truly means to attain the label of being American. In today’s day and age, it is so easy to be immersed in this constant debate of our country and what patriotism even means.

I have never found myself hating the fact that I am American just because of the problems that have arisen, specifically throughout the last couple of years. I believe what makes up a country is the people within it, not just the ignorant speeches that the president delivers.

It is possible and quite likely that the citizens of that country might not actually support their president or the ideals that he/she has presented. I am not a Trump supporter, nor a conservative, rather someone who leans more to the left, possibly an independent. This uncertainty and reluctance to define myself through a political party stems from the feeling of not being able to place a label on how I feel about America.  

Americans are so quick to promote their own opinions and dismiss an opposing viewpoint, nonetheless, from their fellow Americans. This manifests into hatred and boils into arguments that can be avoided through being impartial. You can’t blame Americans for this frustration, as many feel that the president is misrepresenting their party or America as a whole.

Spending almost a month on a boat from Greece, my grandparents, not even teenagers yet, had suffered enough to last a lifetime. My grandmother’s’ eyes tear up, as she tells me with a heavy heart: “We even picked crumbs off of the floor.” They dropped everything they knew in their poor village and sought to better their lives in America. Still sea sick from laying in the very bottom level of the boat that brought them here, my grandmother stepped onto American soul and literally kissed the ground. In that moment, they had something to hold onto, to fill them with hope. This something was the land of the free, home of the brave.

We often take for granted the many blessings of living in this country. Freedom of expression, religion, speech and press are essential to character development and educating others. As a society we are able to grow and understand the differences of the citizens that make up America. When I make the sign of the cross, say a prayer or walk into church, I am aware that not everyone has this privilege in other countries.

America has its flaws, there is no denying that, but so does every other country. If you take a second to sit back and evaluate how drastically different your life would be if you didn’t live in America, you might just appreciate this country more. While I don’t necessarily agree with every decision our president or congress makes, there is no other country that bases its morals off of freedom, as intently as America does.

If you sit for the National Anthem, I will not judge you because you have the freedom to do so. However, I will put my hand on my heart and sing the impactful lyrics for that very reason.

– by Evthoxia Zamagias ’19