Grand Prize winner 2019 ($1000)
By Grace Condello
What Makes the United States of America Great?
The United States of America is a land won by determination, founded on a spirit of change, and rooted in a deep desire for a rule by the people and for the people. Even from the very start, the United States was paving the way for great things. From its humble beginnings, to its current standing as a global superpower, and every high and low in between, it is easy to see how America is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. As a proud American citizen, there is no doubt that I believe the United States is a great country. I believe the foundations of our government, the achievability of the American dream, and the amazing citizens are what makes America great.
One example of how greatness exists in America is due to the foundations of our government. Since the founding fathers created a structure of federalism and republicanism, they established a system where even the average citizen has a say in how our government functions, while very successfully preventing a tyranny of the majority. The American government functions on the principles of democracy, which means rule by the people and for the people. Additionally, the Constitution of the United States contains six basic principles that function as the “supreme Law of the Land” and also ensure the government remains a democracy. These six principles include limited government, popular sovereignty, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and judicial review. Limited government and popular sovereignty ensure the United States government must follow what is written in the constitution and that government power comes from the people. Separation of powers divides the government power into three branches, while checks and balances gives each branch certain “checks” over the other branches. This helps to maintain a balanced government where one branch does not become too powerful. Federalism allows for government participation to occur on a local and state level, which is at times more accessible for the average American. Finally, judicial review ensures that the actions of the legislative and executive branch are constitutional, protecting the citizens from misuse of government power. In addition to these key components of the constitution, there are specific freedoms that I believe make America a great place to call home. Freedom of speech is one of the most widely known aspects of the American government, which allows even unpopular and controversial ideas to be discussed and shared. Freedom of speech is crucial to the rights of citizens to protest and fight against things they believe to be unjust, and ultimately to change and better the country. One aspect of the U.S. government that makes America an especially great place to work, live, and raise a family is freedom of religion. Since the United States has the Free Exercise Clause, citizens are guaranteed the ability to practice their religion and free from persecution by the government. This freedom I possess here in the United States is not a reality for many countries across the globe. I am incredibly thankful and blessed to be able to attend church and worship without fearing for my safety. The Establishment Clause also promotes religious freedom by having no religion established by congress or favored over another religion. These aspects of the American government create a country where the citizens can come together, live freely, and work to bring forth change.
Another reason for America’s greatness is due to its extensive opportunities, and the achievability of the American Dream. It is a geographically vast country, so there is an incredible variety of opportunities that lie between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the world’s most successful businesses and corporations were founded and/or remain in the United States. America is home to inventions that have changed the world as we know it. Mass production was revolutionized with the invention of the assembly line. The Wright Brothers achieved flight for the first time on American soil, and the U.S. was the first country to land on the moon. The United States is home to the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps. The American dream is a real, achievable thing, and the copious amount of success stories that have emerged from our country prove this reality. One incredible opportunity that many American citizens take for granted is the opportunity for quality higher education. Some of the highest ranked universities in the entire world are in the United States. Many countries across the globe send their students to attend American universities such as Stanford, Harvard, and MIT due to their prestige. We have the privilege to have opportunities to an education that is accessible and encouraged. The opportunities to excel and participate in here in America serve to create a great place to work, live, and raise a family.
While there are a myriad of reasons that America is a great place to live, work, and raise a family, I believe the greatest reason is the people who live here. Since citizenship is not based on ethnicity, people come together under something greater. There is no official language, no established religion, and no one people group, which allows there to be an incredible and unparalleled diversity. America is brimming with different people with different perspectives, all bringing something new and wonderful to the table. The United States is a spectrum of different opinions brought together under one flag and one country. Immigrants allow our country to advance in ways we never thought possible, and the United States is proud to represent nearly every country in the world inside of its borders. America is full of people of all different languages, backgrounds, educations, ethnicity, ages, and religions passionately pursuing what they believe is best for this country. America is home to an incredibly generous population as well, a group of people who donate, volunteer, and love the people around them well. One group of people I think make our country especially great is all the dedicated people serving in the U.S. military. These people have made the ultimate sacrifice for the well-being of our nation: their lives. Due to their service, we have the freedom to pursue greatness in areas such as politics, business, technology, arts, science, and so many more. As a proud relative to a former U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant, I have been able to see and experience firsthand the incredible dedication to our country. The citizens who make up the United States of America are truly what make our country great.
America is far from a perfect country. As all countries, we have experienced struggles, conflicts, and tragedy. However, through all of these challenges and adversities, the United States has emerged stronger and more united. We have learned many things as a Nation, and lead the way for countries across the globe through examples equality, security, and freedom. Even though our country has made significant strides forward, I firmly believe that we are capable of even more greatness. Even if I do not pursue a career in politics, I will always remain an active and informed citizen, as well as serving my country in whatever ways I am able. Due to the foundations of the American government, accessible opportunities, and exceptional citizens, there is no other country I would rather call my home.
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