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We used to believe that it was the responsibility of those who came to our country to fit in. It is only logical, after all. Clearly there was something about our country that drew these people to our shores. As it states on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” But when they get here, there should be an expectation that they become Americans. Not German, Japanese, Russian, African, or Mexican hyphenated American — just American.
When did it become fashionable to declare your loyalties and devotion to a country you either left or have never seen?
Although my time in California reminded me why I left that state in the first place, the central portion of our nation restored at least some of my faith. We need to have an expectation that when people decide to immigrate to our country, they do so with the intent to become Americans — not just a citizen of our country, but a true American. An American who believes in our values and will support mom, freedom, and apple pie. No nation can exist without a culture to hold it together. There needs to be something that binds us and pushes us to excel together.
So what is the American culture? If I were to define it I would say we are a nation of people who believe there is no limit to what we can accomplish. We believe in hard work and honesty. We fight for liberty, for ourselves and others.
Most importantly, I believe that we endeavor to manifest the words from the preamble of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It is from these words that we set ourselves apart from other nations. It is in these words where we find the truth and strength of what makes us great and gives us our purpose and meaning.
Matthew Wadler is a U.S. Army veteran and a senior OpsLens contributor. He served in the Army for 20 years as both enlisted and officer before retiring; his service includes time as military police, field artillery, adjutant general, and recruiting. His deployments include Somalia and two tours to Afghanistan. He holds a master’s degree in HR Management and is a strong supporter of the Constitution and an advocate for military and veteran communities. This OpsLens article is used by permission.