America has always been great


Riley Garland

Earlier this semester, a professor questioned my class, asking something along the lines of: “What does Trump mean by ‘Make America Great Again’? When was America ever great? Can anyone tell me?”

My class sat quietly, and I knew full well nobody would offer an answer. I for one certainly wasn’t going to speak up, at the risk of my grade suffering or being marked as a right-winger. That’s not to suppose that this professor would have penalized me in any way, but I think every right-of- center student knows too well the same concern.

However, it’s a question worth answering. In truth, America has always been great, and is still great today.

Nobody is suggesting that there aren’t things to be ashamed of in American history. We have as many injustices as anyone else; slavery, the Trail of Tears, internment camps, the list goes on. Terrible tragedies mark up our history books. However, the disgraces embedded in our history do not diminish the great triumphs of America.

We are a country bound together by people of all races, religions, genders and creeds. Yet, we don’t identify foremost as black or white, Christian or Muslim, man or woman, or any other identity; we are Americans.

What unites us under our flag is a belief that a better life isn’t just a dream, but an achievable promise.

Our country has been built by the hard-working, the dreamers and the risk-takers. The promise of the American dream draws people from across the world to our shores, where hard work is rewarded with a better life.

America is a place where penniless orphans have stepped foot off Ellis Island and transformed themselves into wealthy, respectable people through their labor and dedication.
America continues to be the land of promise for the people of the world, when all seems to be running amuck.

Our role as a symbol of freedom and as a beacon of light and hope in the world isn’t by coincidence.

Thanks to the ingenious of our founding fathers, ideas like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are embedded in our country. These fundamental ideas are what defined America from the rest of the world in 1776, and continue to today.

Because of our love for liberty, our country has emerged as the leader of the free world.
When the world is in peril, where do eyes turn to? When dictators are slaughtering their own men, women, and children, where do eyes turn to? When tanks roll down the streets of far away places, and their people cry out, where do eyes turn to?

Time and time again, America steps forward, not because we want to, but from moral obligation and global empathy. We don’t just care about the liberty and well-being of our own people, but of our brothers and sisters around the world.

When Europe was occupied by the Nazis—the most evil empire in modern history—who marched aboard ships and sailed to a foreign shore in June 1944, leading the charge to free occupied Europe?

We did.

I’m proud to be an American. This land is where people from all across the world voyage to find a new life built on hope. This land is where a penniless person with a dream can become rich beyond imagination. This land is where the first plane took flight. This land is where men and women worked like hell for the war effort against the Nazis. This land is where the first man launched to the moon. This land is where the internet was conceived and born. This land is home to the most charitable people in the world. This land is home to you and me.

And make no mistake, this land is great.