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October 4, 2015

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The meaning of being an American


J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The American flag.

Updated Saturday, June 29, 2013 | 8:26 p.m.

Dear reader,

With the Fourth of July just days away, I’ve thought about what it means to be an American.

Over the past few years, there has been plenty of debate about American values and principles, but an ugly strand of divisiveness runs through it. There are people who seem to think that they have the only true answer and that anyone who disagrees is un-American. (And, from what I’ve seen, that attitude runs throughout the political spectrum.)

Still, I think the discussion is good, and it’s one that should keep going. So, I’d like to ask for your thoughts. Start with this: “What does it mean to be an American? To me, it means:” and then fill in the rest. You don’t need to write a long essay. Short is good. Here’s an example in under 100 words.

What does it mean to be an American? To me, it means:

Being a citizen of a country that has freedom stamped in its DNA. Aside from boundaries (e.g., criminal behavior) and encroachments (e.g., the NSA), being an American still means having freedom. I can have an opinion, even if it’s politically incorrect, and express it without the fear of going to jail. I can live where and how I want and worship how and when I want. I can succeed or fail, be right or wrong, participate or quit. And to me, being an American is not only enjoying those freedoms but respecting your right to do the same.

I hope you’ll exercise the freedom to express your opinion and send your thoughts. We’ll print a sampling of the responses we receive. You can send us a letter to: Being American c/o Letters to the editor, Las Vegas Sun, 2360 Corporate Circle, Third Floor, Henderson, NV 89074. Fax: (702) 383-7264. Email, subject line “Being American,”

Thanks in advance for your thoughts. I look forward to them.


Matt Hufman is the Sun’s editor of editorials and opinions.

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