National Identity Term Paper

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National Identity and the People of the United States

National Identity: How Important is National Identity to the American People?

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National identity should take precedence over other possible identities in the United States, because the United States was founded on the principles of unity and trust, and because if the national identity is not front and foremost in most people's eyes, civil unrest would erupt threatening the safety of all people living in this country. The United States is the only nation in the World to create a national identity, partly because the United States welcomes as its own so many people from different nations, of different cultures, and people that speak different languages. The United States was created as a nation inclusive of many identities. This country is a "safe-haven" for people seeking freedom, justice and the right to live a happy, healthy and productive lifestyle while enjoying the people they live with and the identity they associate with (Korostelina, 2004). Immigrants coming to the country are often quite proud of their ethnic heritage, but this does not mean their "ethnic" heritage is more important to them than their "national" heritage. The opposite is true. Ethnic heritage or one's cultural identification often aligns with their sense of "national" identity, meaning most people would agree that the national identity is pertinent as it encompasses their personal heritage and culture. One's personal "heritage" is inclusive of one's identity, ethnicity and the values or belief systems they cherish. The national identity that belongs to the United States is not one that is exclusive, but rather inclusive of all others. This is one reason the United States is a model of freedom for people throughout the world. The democratic principles that govern this nation offer people of all languages, ethnicities, races and cultures to enjoy democracy and freedom for all, so there is no need for the people living in American to associate with any other identity than "American."

Term Paper on National Identity Assignment

The core American values emphasize unity, justice, and equality among all. The founding fathers of this country helped solidify the concept of a "national identity" when they wrote the Constitution, proclaiming "liberty and justice for all." It is the "all" that defines the people living in the United States. The national unity that people associate with is the one created after wars occurring during the two decades previous to the current one in which we live (Bedford Reader 332). Since the dawn of time people have fought for their freedom. In many nations people to this day still fight for their rights, and fight to establish a common cause or national identity. Fortunately for the American people, there is no reason to "fight" for a common identity because one already exists; it was created when the nation itself was "born." The national identity of the U.S. has and continues to be defined many different ways depending on the person you talk with, but the basic meaning and principles behind it have always been the same. The national identity is the one, solid and unifying force that incorporates all the values and beliefs of all people's into one... that of the "American" people. An "American" is an identity of its own, without the need for other defining notes, words or factors. Does this mean that all people in the United States believe in the idea of a national identity?

Unfortunately there have been times when the sense of nationality failed the American people, as was the case during the year 2000, when many feel the U.S. was "less a nation than it had been for a century" (Bedford Reader, 332). How did this happen? Too many people lost sight of the unifying factors that bring the American people together. This in turn led to tragedy as evidenced by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (Newman, 2001) when many people "changed" for the better, recognizing national identity is important for the safety of this country (p.10). It should not take a crisis or loss however, so great as the tragedy that happened during 9/11 for people to recognize they all stand for a single cause... freedom. This cause is one that helps people define national identity in a proper way.

So how do people define the term "national identity" in modern society? For most, a national American identity is defined as follows: a unifying or core value or set of values that people associate with and relate to. Having a national identity helps preserve the safety of this country, because in cases of war, people often side with their "nation" or the cause of their nation. The cause of a nation may vary from dispute to dispute, but historically people have always identified with others in their group, the group that shares a common identity. When you are a member of a national identity, you are often considered part of a team, the same team that will provide you with guidance, safety, information and education. A national identity is something all Americans have, although some people do not present themselves in a way that would allow others to recognize this. What distinguishes the United States from other countries is its history of being a "melting pot." What this means is many people from many different cultures and those that speak many different languages live in the United States. This is much unlike other countries, where people tend to share one common identity. People speak one language typically in other countries, as the primary language. The same can not be said for people living in countries other than United States. If people do not readily accept the concept of a national identity, there is too much risk that war, violence and the loss of democracy must follow. This is one of many reasons the national identity is so important to the livelihood of this country and of the American people living within its borders.

A national identity is important because it protects the people living in this country from unnecessary harm and violence (Korostelina, 2004). A national identity is something all people ascribe to, for the betterment of their being and to protect their family and their homes. To assert a unifying identity, people must adopt a unified definition and a unified cause so that "identity conflicts" do not arise as they might if people did not consider their national identity before other identities (Korostelina, 213). Korostelina (2004) notes that maintenance of a national identity is the most important element of national safety, because without the sense of "national identity" people tend to engage in conflict, typically regarding "ethnicity" and over power issues related to one's ethnic heritage or culture (Korostelina, 213). If the people living in America cannot identify with the nation they live in, how can they come together to fight for a common cause or to protect the very country they live in and the principles the United States upholds? There are many ways to unify a national identity and create more patriotism among people for their country. These include teaching and educating the American people about the Constitution, the impact of its writing and the meaning it has in modern day society (Korostelina, 2004). To help unify people "when not in a state of crisis," people must begin to learn what their national identity means to them while very young; meaning, national identity must be taught and understood at a basic level among Americans while in grade school (Korostelina, 213).

The impact of not having an identity has severe consequences. Without a national identity, people would fight amongst themselves rather than rally together for a common cause. People may decide to enter into agreements with people that might harm the United States, like terrorists. People may identify too often with "gangs" originated by defiant ethnic groups, which may lead to violence, aggression and poor safety for civilians. People may have difficulty collaborating to come to a common consensus about important matters without a national identity. Politics would not survive if this nation did not have a national identity, because far too many people would be fighting for the "presidency" and not one of them would understand why the title is so important. The title of "president" is only awarded to someone that believes in the national identity; the president must be someone that provides for the wants and needs of the American, no matter that person's religious and cultural beliefs or ethnic identity. Huntington (2004) notes the United States may be having what he deems, "a crisis of national identity" where people are not certain who they are or what their duties are as related to the country (p. 331). This crisis is a serious problem that can lead to issues involving safety, communications and collaboration. The author notes in times of old "American flags regularly hung over the entrances to the United States Post Office and liquor store" (Huntington 330). Huntington also noted how during 9/11 of 2001, there were virtually no flags,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "National Identity" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

National Identity.  (2007, December 3).  Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

MLA Format

"National Identity."  3 December 2007.  Web.  20 October 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"National Identity."  December 3, 2007.  Accessed October 20, 2020.