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Feet: Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is an important document in American history as it represents the birthright of the American people. The document asserts that the right of freedom is not just a privilege but an unalienable right, vital to the human experience, and crucial for the pursuit of happiness and a fulfilling life. These unalienable rights define Americans as they are “god-given” the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This foundational text not only sparked the creation of a country based on liberty but also established a standard for the common desire for freedom, inspiring similar actions and proclamations across the globe. The Declaration of Independence essentially states that to live without liberty is to be deprived of a basic aspect of human existence, demonstrating the unbreakable bond between freedom and life itself. And while this document represented many bases of an American society this was not always represented in the country. As the document said that American citizens will have the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, this was not truly representative of the lives of African Americans until 1865 when the 13th amendment was ratified. Before this time, most African Americans(especially in the South) were held as slaves while colored people in the north had limited rights. For example, even though African American in the north were free they had limited voting rights; they had limited access to education and were often segregated to inferior schools. African Americans also faced significant discrimination in the labor market. They were typically offered only low-paying jobs and were excluded from many trades and professions. Economic opportunities were further limited by discriminatory practices in lending and property ownership. These examples, which excludes the obvious impeachment of rights in the south for colored people, showcase just how much the unalienable rights of an American were violated.

Head: WWII

The event of World War ll was a notable event in history. The event both tore apart and brought together the world. In America we could also see this same pattern as the war broke some aspects of America and brought together other aspects. The idea that to be an American is to express and enact the right to freedom and the life that goes along with it, as well as to participate in civic duties alongside the larger society, resonates deeply with being an American and the inherent American identity, especially in the context of World War II. In order to help the war effort at home, citizens from all walks of life performed civic obligations, such as volunteering in civil defense, purchasing war bonds, planting victory gardens, or working in the defense industry. Participating in civic obligations became a unifying factor for the country, and the desire for freedom transcended national boundaries—which became an accurate representation of the American identity. The US's involvement in World War II served as a powerful example of how being an American is linked to a dedication to justice, freedom, and a sense of duty to both the country and the larger human community. It also showed how the US identity is not limited to its borders but is a formidable force on the international scene. While the war brought out the shining qualities of the American government and its citizens it also showcased events that Americans of today would not be proud of. While World War II highlighted the unity and commitment of Americans to freedom and civic duty, it also revealed aspects of American society and government actions that contrasted with the idealistic thesis of what it means to be an American. Despite displaying American’s patriotism in the war, the United States still struggled with complications on the home front. This is exemplified through racial segregation and discrimination, specifically shown through the internment of Japanese Americans. This policy, enacted out of fear and prejudice, stripped thousands of American citizens and residents of their freedoms, which contradicted the nation's base principles. Moreover, the war effort showed the violation of civil liberties, such as censorship and surveillance, which reflected a tension between national security(the war effort) and individual freedoms. These actions demonstrate that while the American identity is often characterized by a commitment to freedom and civic duties, World War II exposed complications and contradictions in these ideals, showing that the American experience can sometimes diverge from its foundational principles, especially in times of crisis.

Crown: American Revolution

The American Revolution, also known as the U.S. War of Independence, was a political and military conflict that took place between 1775 and 1783, when 13 of Great Britain's North American colonies established the United States of America (This being one of the most influential moments in American history was the reasoning why this event was placed at the crown). When defining what it means to be an American, the first thoughts that come to mind are the abilities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are the guiding principles of what America is today and these same rights were violated by Great Britain through their restriction of rights and numerous other bylaws. The American Revolution is a crucial period in the history of the country, and it is closely linked to the idea that the expression and implementation of freedom, combined with a shared sense of civic responsibility, are the fundamental components of the American identity. The American values of liberty and social responsibility were formed in the coming of this historical event. In addition to fighting for their personal freedom, patriots fighting against British rule did so in support of a common ideal of a society in which each person could choose their own destiny and advance the general good they acted in. Ordinary residents, from farmers to artisans, picked up arms, organized neighborhood committees, and took part in a fight for freedom, demonstrating a strong dedication to civic involvement. During this time, American principles were also articulated in writings such as the Declaration of Independence, which summed up the aspiration for independence and the right to take part in determining the future of the country. Thus, the American Revolution was not only a struggle against colonial rule but also an expression of the emerging American identity, emphasizing the vital link between the pursuit of freedom and civic duty and establishing the foundation for the United States as a country founded on these intertwined ideals. Even though this was a historical event that completely demonstrated the American ideals in the colonists fighting for their independence, there were also times in the war where this was not demonstrated. While the American Revolution was a testament to the pursuit of freedom and civic engagement, it also unveiled contradictions in the emerging American identity, revealing behaviors and policies that diverged from the “what it means to be an American”. Despite the battle for liberty, the era was marked by inconsistencies in the application of these newfound freedoms. An example of this is shown by how the revolution did not address the enslavement of African Americans, as their own aspirations for freedom remained unacknowledged, even as white Americans fought for their independence. Women too were largely ignored, as their roles were confined to the domestic field and with little recognition of their potential for civic contribution or acknowledgment of their rights. Which goes against what Americans were fighting for in the first place in the war. Native American interests were also largely ignored, as their lands continued to be violated. Another example of how this historical event disregarded the basic rights of what it meant to be American was shown through the persecution of Loyalists. The fire that fueled the fight for independence in many colonists differed and this led to internal conflicts and eventually the persecution of Loyalists. Their properties were confiscated and their lives were disrupted. These aspects of the Revolution underscore that while it was a defining moment for American freedom and civic duty, it also highlighted the complexities of the colonists and of a nation striving to define its identity, leading to overlooking the very principles it sought to establish.

Left arm: Civil War

The Civil War was a conflict fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern states (Union) and the Southern states (Confederacy) that seceded from the Union. The war was primarily centered around issues of slavery and states' rights, addressing the Confederacy's attempt to establish itself as an independent nation. The Union's victory preserved the United States as a single nation and led to the abolition of slavery. This abolition of slavery showcases how Americans became self observant of their actions and acknowledged the freedom of life and civic duties that all citizens should have including African Americans. This period also showcased Americans' commitment to the ideals of freedom, in contrasting ways. On one side, the Union fought to uphold the nation’s ideals and end the institution of slavery, by representing the principle that every American should live free from slavery and have the opportunity to forge their own path. This commitment to freedom and civic duty was evident as soldiers and civilians both participated in a collective effort to preserve the Union and abolish slavery. On the other side, the Confederacy, while also claiming to fight for their rights and freedom, also wanted to maintain and expand the institution of slavery, which illustrated a difference in their interpretation of freedom. The Civil War, therefore, serves as an illustration of the internal conflicts within American identity, showing how the drive for freedom can be interpreted and acted upon in different ways, and therefore influencing the nation's course and its idea about what it truly means to be an American. While the American Civil War was mostly based on the struggle over freedom and civic duty, it also showed aspects of American identity and governance that diverged from the idealistic vision of what it means to be an American. The war revealed a nation that was divided, not only in its stance on slavery but also through its commitment to the collective good of the U.S through civic responsibilities. Furthermore, the government's response to the war caused people to question civil liberties, such as the suspension of habeas corpus and the declaration of martial law in some regions. Despite being thought essential for the Union's survival, these actions went against the idea of individual rights. Furthermore, the destruction of the war revealed how much Americans were willing to compromise their ideals in the face of danger. Therefore, the Civil War demonstrated the difficulties involved in upholding the values of freedom and civic responsibility during a severe national crisis, even though it served as a foundational moment in history that helped to define the American identity.

Legs: Bill of Rights

The bill of rights is a document containing the first 10 amendments made to the US constitution. These 10 amendments each in their own create many different meanings for the definition of an American. Beginning with the first amendment which is the freedom of speech. These amendments can all be seen providing the base rights that an American frequently takes for granted. This is important to note because these taken for granted rights create a subconscious definition for the american. That piece of the definition is meaning that as an American you wake up everyday and are subject to freedoms and rights that others are not. It is a gift and privilege that many across the world do not experience everyday created by our Bill of Rights and its precedent for the amending of the constitution that has continued until today and throughout history has modified and reshaped the definition of an American as time has continued and our country has evolved. Furthermore the bill of rights helps to define an american by serving as a demonstration of societal belief that men are indeed created equal and do experience equal rights under being an american citizen. This clarification is important because part of being an American is also being equal in all aspects. And the bill of rights explicitly points out that every US citizen (American) is entitled to the same rights that are not to be broken, adding a massive value in the definition of what it means to be an american. Although the argument of the purity to which these rights are always followed by the government and the various questionings for how constitutional something is do exist there is significant reasoning to believe otherwise. The Bill of Rights alone has been in place 233 years and to this day protects American rights and remains an unbroken and central piece to society and the definition of an american. That alone shows the importance of the Bill of Rights. Furthermore the effectiveness of the Bill of Rights in the sense of how based on the rights it gives an American citizen the power to spread patriotism and express given freedoms makes it more impactful on what it means to be an american because as patriotism spreads so does a sense of national pride therefore increasing the overall moral in the country making being an American a statistically more happy and enjoyable thing. The combination and cooperation of the Bill of Rights in tandem with the American society that promote both the individual and his/her own rights along with society and its rights and even to the extent of states’ rights give the Bill of Rights an important role in defining what it means to be an American.

Body: The Constitution

The longest standing written charter of government is the US constitution. The Us constitution’s defining trait is the power of the people. It begins with the infamous first 3 words of “We The People”. Those three words alone embody the near entirety of what it means to be an American. Those three words and their meaning are forever embedded in the United States moral principle and have shaped society since the Constitution was in operation in 1789. We The People of the indication that the United States as a country is representative of one body. With all of its 300+ million individuals expressing their own rights and opinions through their elected representatives through structured and long lasting democracy built on the values of representation and freedom. These are emulated and deep rooted by the long standing constitution that regulates and serves as the foundation for our country today. The Constitution created what we know as the three branches of government and also set the rules in place for them as they are followed to this day. It gives the base for checks and balances. In regards to the contribution the constitution has to being an American it's fairly straightforward. The constitution is the creation of a government with the goal in mind to be for its people and those people being Americans. The depth of that alone creates a safe and balanced country in which all Americans can define themselves as individual people and also represent their opinions on how things should be done. As individuals are safe they can begin to express the freedoms they are given and then pursue their goals and achieve their happiness within themselves. This freedom and pursuit that Americans experience is what it means to be an American as it allows Americans to chase their dreams and create and benefit from their creations. All the while keeping them protected under 3 checked forms of government. The constitution also moves the citizenship guidelines which is important in defining an American because in order to participate in American civic duties and reside as a righteous American you must be a citizen. Through history and its constant and frequent change the constitution’s political framework has led to the infringement upon american rights and what it means to be an american have never broken through countless trials and tribulations. Many root origins of what it means to be an American stem from the constitution and the rights, liberties, and structure it provides for the country as its critical unwavering framework. Overall without the constitution the defining of an American as we know it today would be vastly different as without the constitution and its framework and defining of citizenship to amongst other contributions to the country who knows what an American would be subject to today and what rights they would have and what government they would live under. Questions, such as are we as citizens protected from a dictatorship-like uprising where one individual rises to complete power, begin to arise causing mass confusion and mayhem throughout the US and most likely the corruption and failure of the nation. Henceforth is the reason for the constitution's importance in what it means to be an American by its contribution to the daily freedom and safety of its individuals.

Right arm: Women’s Suffrage

Women's suffrage is a critical part in what it means to be an American for women as it was one of the most significant events in women gaining rights and freedom. Today every American is equal under law but it was not always this way for all women especially. Women throughout US history have been suppressed and mistreated by all standards we live by today. Women worked and fought for their freedoms and rights that they experience today and women's suffrage solidified in the 19th amendment was one of the critical turning points in women gaining the full and complete rights defining them as equal americans along with all the men of the country. This development was also impactful for the men of America as it changed the dynamics of the entirety of the country as it introduced an entire new perspective to the voting of the US as well as gave women opportunities to represent themselves side by side with men in government. All of these developments led to large cultural shifts and social movements that all advocated in the favor of women creating a more equal country in which all its citizens experienced the same rights and freedoms as well as opportunities. In the same way the founding fathers created the base for the definition of an American, the women's suffrage and its activists paved that same road for women. Women's suffrage altered the democratic values of the US by introducing the ideas and perspectives of women into the voting and representation in the government. By having the entire law making and government altered the country as a whole can redefine what an American is. Through those changes women eventually became almost fully equal in the rights and freedoms they experience. Encouraging women across the country to then become part of the greater body of american making them a part of the patriotism and nationalism while also prompting their own individual pursuits. Overall the women's suffrage movement is a testament to how America expanded its rights and opportunities to all of its citizens while also showing how powerful being an American is and what being an American means as the women of America stood up for themselves in a free and opportunistic country and gained their full rights.

Torch:Voting

Voting is the centripetal action in the defining of an American. Voting creates and strengthens the government in the perspective of each individual citizen as they vote for their representatives. The country is united by this process and it creates individualistic representation that is an essential part to being an American. The structure and right to vote that is America create the uniqueness and patriotism one can have in their country. While some may argue that the voting can be broken or the system is often unfair, biased, or rigged the voting system has remained in the country and served as the main way citizens have a say in government. The voting action is one that combines all of the rights and opportunities offered and defines an American. Without voting the meaning to be an American would be lost because there would be nothing to be patriotic for and no part of each person within the government. Voting is an important part of political representation of the people in America. This is a civic duty of the people and is an important freedom that the American people should have. This being said, the freedom to vote was not offered to everyone as it is today. For much of the country's history, the right to vote, which is a fundamental expression of freedom and civic duty, was not extended to all citizens. Women, African Americans, Native Americans, and other minority groups were excluded from this essential civic duty. This showed the ideals of American identity at the time and the attitude of people toward these “minority groups.” This exclusion not only contradicted the fundamental American ideals of freedom and participation, but it also led to groups that battled for civil rights and the opportunity to vote, which demonstrated the strong sense of resiliency and fight for freedom of the American people.