My grandpa was raised by a single mother who was a true “Rosie the Riveter.” She worked long, hard hours to support her children and experienced injustice as a female employee at that time.
My grandpa said that watching this was what first got him interested in studying law. From an early age, he knew that he wanted to do something important with his life. Through a lot of sacrifices he was able to go to college and continue on to get a law degree.
As a professional lawyer, he especially worked for educational opportunities for minorities and underprivileged groups because he believed that education would help them better their lives. He served as the dean of five different law schools where he taught thousands of students.
His story inspired me from a young age. He was born in less than ideal circumstances, but through hard work, sacrifice, and great perseverance he was able to make something amazing of his life and touch the lives of thousands of others. This was only possible in a country in which anyone can truly become anything they dream to be.
As an American studies and economics double-major, I hear many times in a day that America is a racist, sexist, classist society with the most unfair economic system of any other country in the world. People love to rail against this country because of how it has not lived up to its dreams.
The most important thing about this country though is that it dared to dream. At a time when civilization was chained down by viewing people in terms of groups, hierarchy and class, America dared to dream that people could be individuals and that they could shape their own futures.
Thomas Jefferson dared to inscribe the words “that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights” on the hearts not only of every American, but of every individual who wanted something better. American soldiers dared to fight for a country that would welcome new ideas of equality and individual liberty. Alexander Hamilton dared to embrace an economic system that would reward individuals for what they could provide for others, for a person’s inventiveness and ingenuity. At a time when the world was struggling to remain stagnant, gripping onto the rod of tradition and security with white knuckles, a few ragged, newly created American citizens dared to dream of something new, of something better.
The power of the American dream is that it hasn’t just affected those blessed to live here, but has spread to the hearts of individuals living all over the world. This dream of liberty and equality is what has combated racism, sexism, and classism in every country. These newly embraced ideas fought back poverty and created opportunity. The modern world of creative minds, working hands, and full stomachs was created because of what a few individuals dreamed of in the year 1776.
In this world of dreaming, my grandpa was born in 1938 and he rose to better circumstances than those in which he was born. In this world of opportunities, I was born in 1997 and I too have dreams of changing lives and bettering the world. Because of the dreams of those who came before me and the opportunities that they died to create, today in this country I am free to change the world in whatever ways for which I am willing to sacrifice, work, and fight. That is the power of the American dream.
Sara Grundvig is from Colorado and is currently a Junior at Brigham Young University majoring in Economics and American Studies.
This essay was entered in the Epoch Times “Why I Love America” contest.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.