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What Defines a Nation?

Updated on July 4, 2017
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years.


What is your nationality? If someone ask you this question, what comes to mind? I say I am an American. In my own case, I am a naturalized citizen who came here from the Island of Taiwan, the Republic of China. I became a citizen at the age of 16. I attend public school and graduated from the NYC school system. I went on to attend a public University and graduated with an engineering degree. I spent the next 30 years working for a private corporation. What is the common thread that makes me distinctly American.

- July 2017


A nation is defined by it's borders, language and culture as Dr. Michael Savage repeats on his show. Take any nation in the world, that statement is more or less true. A country or nation usually has a well defined physical border. The people who lives in that country have a unified language. The public schools teaches that language. All official business of the government is conducted in that language. Finally, a culture that has some common historical roots. Over time, that culture may change and adapt and grow but it still contains all the common elements that distinguish one nation from another. That culture emcompasses a large area of activity. Including our history, our government, our beliefs, our commerce and foods and recreation...

In our case, as Americans, our culture includes our Constitution, our Judeo Christian beliefs, our capitalistic system and apple pie and baseball...

It is also true that we are a nation of immigrants. Perhaps uniquely in our planet's history, we invite all people from all nations to come here to work and live and dream and share in our wealth and freedom.

Our History...

Over the past 240 years, we have had waves of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Russia, China, Mexico and a slew of countries. People came hear in search of a better life for themselves and their families. What they found was a path to properity like no other place on earth. It was the uniqueness of our government that values individual liberty over all else. There are no classes or casts here. We are all equal in the eyes of our government.

As part of that history, we did have slavery. However, we fought a civil war in 1860 to resolve that issue. All men are free as Abraham Lincoln professes. I will not deny that we had our share of growing pains as a nation. Our treatment of native Indians were particular troubling. Various groups down through our history have endured all kinds of hardships. The Irish, the Jews and the Japanese and Chinese immigrants and women all have experienced some kind of discrimination. We are a better people having experienced those episodes and have changed our laws to incorporate them in the name of equality.

With each group of immigrants, they have assimilated to our culture. Usually within one generation or two, they have learned our language, they have adopted our culture and in some cases added to that culture with foods and festivities...

In 2017, we have a diverse and rich nation that incorporated the best of all groups. Yet, we are distinctly American. We have our own holidays and favorite sports and favorite foods. Even though we don't have an official language, we all speak English in our daily lives, working, socializing and in commerce.

Our Constitution

What is a Nation?

"We the people...", the first three words of the preamble to our Constitution, is the nation that is America. We collectively and individually makes up America. We have a rich heritage of 240 years. It is a young country by historical standards but yet we have achieved so much in such a short time. We are the greatest nation in the world, as well as the richest. We are the only super power like it or not.

In recent years, our country is dvided politically like no other times perhaps since the civil war. This division is a cultural one as well as political in nature. It is a division between, country and the world. Our world views are very different among the two camps. On the one hand, we have a belief based on our roots that is Christian versus a secular non-religious base. We have a nationalist view versus a global view of our place in the world. We also have an individual versus collective approach to our government.

How do we resolve these differences is the challenge for our generation? We can either move forward together or separately. We are comprised of 50 individual States. They are as different as night and day between some States. In recent years, because of our differences, some have even propose a separation of a State. That would be a giant mistake in my opinion. We are all intelligent people. We all want the same things. We just have a different idea and approach on how to get there. Let's work on reaching some compromise and consensus peacefully and rationally.


God Bless America

Words and music by Irving Berlin
© Copyright 1938, 1939 by Irving Berlin

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. "

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

America the Beautiful

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!


My wish and prayer for our nation is that we stay strong and united and preserve, protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. May God bless the United States of America.

© 2017 Jack Lee


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