Sometimes the true spirit of what America stands for is forgotten or ignored.

Sometimes America is thought of as the land of the free and the home of the brave. More often, it's thought of as a land of prosperity. And that prosperity rests on its greatest moniker, the land of opportunity.

Opportunity does not spring from nothing. It takes a certain type of society to protect the possibility for individual initiative. It is that culture that truly sets America apart. It is that culture that has changed history and the world, and set a higher standard for what all people should demand from their governments, their representatives, and themselves.

A few nights ago, just before I was going to sleep, I decided to set down in as few lines as possible what the true essence of the American spirit is. The core of the culture. In a beautiful leather-bound notebook that my cousin bought me this past Christmas, I inscribed these lines.

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America is an ideal.

It's an idea held in the head, and a feeling held in the heart.

The notion that all people have individual rights, that the institution of government is there to protect these rights through representation by the consent of the people, and that the people have a duty to hold their representatives accountable.

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This idea of rights, of freedoms, of limits on power, is the foundation stone of individual liberty. Without it, opportunity is restrained and human potential whithers. With it, opportunity flourishes and the inherent potential of humanity is released and blooms.

The principles of individual freedom, and the courage to uphold them. This, is what makes America great.


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