The dream of the average American is independence.
Under this umbrella known as the American dream is the pursuit
of owning a home, a car, a stable paying job and the ability to provide for our food, clothing and enough cash to care for our family. Americans work one or two jobs forty to sixty hours a week to keep this umbrella over our heads.
Independence is never easy or cheap. Most Americans pay 20 - 30 years to own a house. A lot of Americans never own one. Young adults are graduating from college owing $28,000 to over a $100,000 before they even begin their first real job. (Source: American Student Assistance.Org) Americans with medical insurance often end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt due to being responsible for 20% of their medical bills. 1.7 million people filed bankruptcy due to medical bills in 2012 and 56 million more Americans struggled with medical bills. (Source:cnbc.com report from NerdWallet) Too many Americans have worked for corporations for ten to twenty years to learn their employer is moving to Honduras, Mexico or simply closing to reorganize and reopen in another state. (Source: Manufacturing.net, 600 Kentucky workers lose jobs as Jamestown plant closes to move to Honduras.)
Traditionally, Americans have dreamed of plugging into an employer or career and working thirty years. The hope is to progress, grow and be rewarded throughout the career. When retirement age comes then we hope to pay ourselves to do whatever we want to do which could include golfing, fishing, traveling or walking the beach.
Our forefathers came here seeking independence from British rule. They wanted to enjoy religious freedom, own some land and have the freedom to carve out a living for themselves and their families. The pursuit of their dreams was tough and many died.
Their sacrifices paved the way for survivors and others who would follow. They and every generation that followed handed to us the America we enjoy. It is humbling to walk the national cemetery in Arlington knowing that so many died for what we have today. Whether standing at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier or at a friend’s grave in Kentucky, who died in Vietnam, I am starkly reminded that a huge price of sacrifice has been paid for all of us in America.
My mother and father worked hard for forty years. I benefited from their labor. Numerous schoolteachers invested in me for years without a lot of pay. The spectrum of debt we all owe is wide. From the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Martin Luther King, Bill Gates and millions of others our lives are enriched because so many have worked hard and sacrificed much.
Americans have enjoyed the freedom to dream, pursue, fail and try again. All the while everything we are doing today has been made possible or a little easier because of the price paid by so many others who have given so much.
— Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and author. Contact him at GMollette@aol.com.