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June 22, 2011

First, I am incredibly pleased that you posted the long-awaited Flag Day blog.

But more importantly, some of the things you said really resonated with my own experience working closely with marginalized groups that do not receive the support that they could use from the government. I am often afraid to present my own opinions about “being patriotic,” because, like you, I do not want them to seem as though they are in a completely negative light. I know that I benefit from the rights that the United States government protects for me each and every day, and that my social, economic, and academic situations could be completely different if I did not live in this country. However, I also know that there are many individuals who live in this country who cannot say that they reap the same benefits as I do. In a community that fosters the ideals of “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps,” there are many who think that if you believe in the “American Dream,” anyone can do anything with little or no obstacles, therefore lending to the idea that those who are impoverished are either lazy or not worthy of success. But this dream is not all it’s cracked up to be – and it’s definitely not as easy as many would like to believe. Restrictions put in place because of social conditions, severe issues in the education system, and goverment systems (among many other things) make it impossible for many to escape the cyclical nature of poverty. Knowing this, and working with the individuals and groups that these conditions affect the most, it is difficult to always have the best outlook on the present and future circumstances in the United States.

Working with the Summer School has shown me two different sides to the American Dream. Yes, the fact that a program with 75 staff members must run over the summer in order to give additional support to over 250 students so that they can try to be at the same level as their peers during their next year in school indicates that the American Dream is not blind in terms of race, class, or gender. There are many reasons why these students in particular truly need a program like this in place in order to achieve academically. However, this program (and all others like it) demonstrates the ability of the United States government and people to bolster the American Dream, and make it more of an achievable goal for many individuals. And an American Dream that provides for all those living in the United States is one that truly embodies the American spirit and all of the ideals on which our government is built. And THAT is something to get patriotic about!

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