By Jack Feldman
Today, Drake students explored the National Archives and saw the country’s most precious documents.
The experience reminded me of my American values, which are so intrinsic that they seem to be one with my conscience. However, since the election, and even since the primaries, my pride as an American has been anything but intrinsic. I feel too often that being American is not something to be proud of, that being an American is being part of the many things that this country has done wrong, that being American is deserving to be represented by someone like Donald Trump. This is admittedly a low point for the country in many people’s, including my own, opinion.
When I first saw the founding documents today I was shocked at how faded they were. I couldn’t help but think, “America’s true purpose is fading away as we head into the inauguration of Donald Trump”. But these documents were fading long before today and my obvious bias was present in this thought. However, there is something to be said for the fact that the American people have lost touch with what it means to be an American. As our founding documents fade, so does our understanding of them.
Well, there was no better place to revitalize the pride that I have for my country than the national archives. I began to think idealistically again about my country and about how we can all still make this the best country it can be. Seeing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution made me realize that the general principles of our founding documents are what we should fight to uphold every day. When we see our civil liberties and our rights get attacked we need to be vigilant and stand up for them, not be defeated by the mere threat that they will be taken from us. When we see an authoritarian gain power and pose a danger to our ability to speak our minds, we should not complain that they got into power in the first place, we should resist and fight any attempt at taking away our liberty. America is worth fighting for, the founding fathers lived this sentiment. We must be prepared in our own way to fight against powers that want America to become something it is not, something that contradicts the values that our democracy is predicated on.
Holding ourselves and our government accountable to the documents that make us special is imperative to keeping our identity as Americans. Everyone who calls themselves American must understand that all people are created equal and that they have inalienable rights such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Without this understanding, no one can truly defend America or its values. I believe in America again after visiting the archives because I know, based on history, that we can outlast any adversity that comes our way.