Be thankful for being an American

Again and again I witness how ungrateful many Americans are. We are such a lucky people. We live in such a wealthy, advanced country, and have basic freedoms without recent generations having done anything to earn them. We have everything that anyone could ever want; yet many don’t appreciate everything that we have even though we have so much.

This year we will vote for the next president of the United States of America. I have been waiting to vote anxiously since I was about 12. I was brokenhearted to find out that my 18th birthday falls after the polls close. I will miss out on something incredible: the chance to help elect the next president.

I was shocked to realize that not all Americans vote or are even registered to vote. Countries like Uganda, Cuba, North Korea and so many others throughout Africa are run by dictators. The people of these countries cannot freely choose their leaders, laws or anything else for that matter. We have something so precious, something they do not. We have freedom and yet not every American utilizes it. I am appalled.

In the U.S. we have an amazing education system. In the past years it has taken hits from budget cuts and the recession, but it is still one of the best schooling systems in the world, if not the best. People from all over the globe flock to the U.S. to learn in our esteemed universities and colleges. According to The World Factbook by the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A), 99 percent of the population of the U.S. is literate as of 2003. Niger has a literacy rate of 28.7 percent, in Afghanistan the literacy rate is 28.1 percent, and in South Sudan only 27 percent of the population is literate.

The people of these countries would probably love to have the education of American children. Yet, if you walk into just about any American high school you will be greeted with bemoaning and whining. You will hear talk of too much homework, too much note taking and too much time spent in school.

As American adolescents we don’t realize just how incredibly lucky we are. We are born with opportunity, with the right to be educated and literate, and the right to take part in our government through voting. We can be anything we want, yet we don’t understand the potential of that.

Take every opportunity you come across. Be thankful for everything you have and realize that not everyone has everything, or even anything, that you do. Take advantage of your free education and your freedom.

One thought on “Be thankful for being an American

  • May 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I totally agree with you that we are very lucky to live in such a people-friendly country that allows us to vote, learn, and live our lives how we see fit. That being said, I think you missed the concept of freedom halfway through. After talking about voting, and how some people are not registered to vote, or just do not vote in the first place, you stated “[we] have freedom and yet not every American utilizes it. I am appalled.” While I agree it may seem like all the effort we put into this country is wasted on a few fronts, I think this is the perfect example of what we have worked hard to achieve. We have the freedom to choose wether or not we vote, or even register to vote! Freedom of choice is what we have here in America, and I support any choice people make for themselves. I personally don’t see any pride in being an American because of what we have done in the past and continue to do to this day, such as Guantanamo Bay, standing by in Uganda, and being overly focused on proving a point, aka Middle East. I’m thankful for what I have been given, not by who gave it to me, and I will use my freedom as an American citizen however I see fit, as will many others. That is my standpoint on freedom and being an American.

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