On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia formed a committee to draft a document that would formally sever ties between the 13 colonies and Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston were all on this committee.
The document is known as the Declaration of Independence, which was composed by Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer. The final draft was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration of Independence has since become our nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty since its indoctrination. Two hundred thirty years later, some American’s still express deep affection for the liberty and freedom this country has come to represent and almost guarantee, while others take advantage of that same liberty and freedom.
Wayne Adelstein is currently president and CEO of the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce. When asked how it felt to be an American, he said he had a fond appreciation for the opportunities available in America.
“As some one who grew up abroad in a poor country,” Adelstein said, “I wish native Americans appreciated all this country has to offer.”
Adelstein said neither race or religion and social status inhibits Americans from succeeding in America as long as people are willing to work hard.
As a man who came to the United States from a North Atlantic island off Portugal in his early teens, Adelstein praised the relative freedom of thought and expression found here in America.
Jody Tadros, senior psychology major, shared similar sentiments about being an American. Tadros said the U.S. is the land of opportunity where open education is possible unlike other countries.
“Here our voices are heard,” Tadros said. “There might be discrimination, but in the time of need people forget who they are and where they’re from and people pull together.”
Misle Sileshi grew up in Ethiopia and had mixed feelings regarding being American. Initially, she insisted she did not like President Bush. President Bush, however, is not the only factor Sileshi associates with the U.S.
“I’m thankful for the educational opportunities available here,” the sophomore biology major said. “If I were trying to go to school like this in my country, it would cost me a lot more money. I’m glad for that aspect.”
Sileshi also said although she’s currently pursuing an education to secure better opportunities for herself and her family, she does not fully believe in what is known as “the American Dream.”
“It just isn’t available for everybody,” she said. “I don’t believe it.”
Ken Barrow, senior sociology major, born in Belize City, Belize, had similar feelings about America.
“I can’t really answer that question because I’m not American,” Barrow said. “America is a place where I learned as a child that I can’t hold on to my own culture. I have to fit in to be successful. I have to be without a culture in order to be here.”
Barrow said Americans are predatory individualists who exploit one another regularly in their relationships and he has to be able to separate the parts from the sum as a whole.
“As far as my food and my music and things like that, I identify with being Belizean,” Barrow said, “But in my mind, I know I’m American in the way that I think.”
Stephanie Muyco, junior CTVA major, also said being American could be confusing.
“My friends say I’m having an identity crisis,” Muyco said. “I have to hyphenate my identity as Filipino-American.”
Muyco believes even her hyphenated identification is inaccurate because she does not fully relate to either ethnic group. She does not speak Filipino and she tends to associate with a diverse group of people. Muyco said she doesn’t fit in anywhere.
“Certain ethnic groups stick together and it’s harder for me to relate to people of my own race because I’m not as ethnically proud as they usually are,” Muyco said. “I don’t really have a preference for what you call me. I can be Filipino American, Asian American or just American American.”