What does it mean to be an American?
To be an American to me means that I am free. That when I grow up I can pick the job I want, what shift to work. And to have a good education. It means that I can say "The Pledge of Allegiance" and that I can vote for the President, my county clerk, and the Mayor. But to me it means most of all to be free and to be proud that I live in the United States of America here in Wisconsin.
Ashley M., 10, Wisconsin
It means that you are free. It also means you can vote for who you want to.
Hannah K., 10, Wisconsin
I think it's cool being an American because we are free. The Pledge stands for everything.
Alex K., 10, Wisconsin
I think it means to be free. I wouldn't want to be from any other country.
Cheyenne L., 10, Wisconsin
It is great to be an American. We get to play sports and eat lots of food. We get lots of toys, all because we are free — the best thing of all.
Austin B., 11, Wisconsin
Being an American to me is being free. It also means to be fair.
Kaitlyn T., 10, Wisconsin
Being an American is about being free and loyal. It's about having freedom of religion, rights, and justice. It's also about being about yourself.
Sarah K., 10, Wisconsin
To be an American for me means freedom and justice. I also think being an American is a big responsibility.
Neil C., 10, Wisconsin
Being an American means that we are all treated equally no matter what color skin you have, and it doesn't matter what culture you are from. If you are an American you are mighty lucky because you will be free forever.
Cody S., 10, Wisconsin
I think that America is a great country and the First Amendment says it all.
Kane B., 10, Alabama
To be an American means you have the right and freedom to do what you want. It is great to be an American.
Whitley S., 11, Alabama
When I think about September 11, 2001, I walk up and down my neighborhood waving an American flag. On September 11, 2002, I will wear an American shirt to school.
Matt L., 12, Alabama
To be an American is great, because I have freedom of speech; I can go to school to get an education; I have a great family; and you can go where- ever you want to.
Ciara W., 10, Alabama
To me being an American means to be free. America is very special to me and my family. I would give anything for my country!
Sarah B., 11, Alabama
It means being special. Everyone is different and has a different personality. So you can be Italian, Mexican, or Irish, and still be an American. So be yourself.
Rachel P., 10, Alabama
I think being an American is having freedom, the Bill of Rights, and just one person can make a difference in America.
Jillian D., 10, Alabama
I love AMERICA because I have so many rights!! I love having freedom of speech, the freedom of voting, and the freedom of being your own individual. I love being able to have your own religious beliefs. I like that we have a democracy. I love being an American for these reasons and more!!!!!!!!!!!
Krista G., 10, Alabama
I think it means to support your family, community, and your state. And you could help your school by picking up trash and different things.
Justin B., 10, Alabama
I think that it means to support your community by doing things for it. You could join a trash pickup. You could donate money to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many other things. You could join Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts and do things with them. But the most important thing is to allow freedom, meaning that people should allow other cultures and religions to be with your own culture.
Eugene D., 10, Alabama
Being an American to me means many things like being able to speak your mind; attend the church you want to attend; celebrate the holidays you want to celebrate; and be a slave to no one. September 11 has proved that all the above are true here in America, and we should all be very thankful to be Americans. Peace!
Sarai B., 11, Oregon
To be an American means more than good restaurants, burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets. It means to have faith and to have trust in every American around you. It doesn't matter what color you are. You are an American. It doesn't matter what you wear. What it means to be an American is more than what you think...because I will live my life ...my way. GOD BLESS THE U.S!
Nilam V., 10, South Carolina
To be an American. Many take this phrase too lightly others, too strict. Being an American does not mean that you go to baseball games and eat hot dogs, but to live your life out to the fullest, not just waving around a flag every day. Being an American is to help another, whether it be Polish or Chinese or Afghan or Muslim. Being an American means helping your sworn enemy, even if you do not wish, but you shall help with dignity and pride. Being American means that you capture the true essence of every being, from the simplest little flower to the most-beautiful person in the world. Being American means to be united as one, under whatever deity you worship, and to be able to depend, rely, and give hope to each other. Because being American does not just mean living in America, every person has a part of being an American in them, deep inside, embedded, until they wish to release that piece, and share it with the world. That is what a true American is.
Jonathan B., 12, Hawaii
To be an American is the greatest thing in the world. We have freedom and liberty. We also have a very diverse country which means we are stronger because we have to learn all the different ways of living. I am very lucky to be an American.
Morgan A., 11, Kentucky
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So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.
The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.
To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
- Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
- Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.
To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners, with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
- Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes.
- Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise ofdehumanization"; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
- Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure, by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.
Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:
- Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."
Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University