Webster’s Dictionary defines culture as, “the ideas, customs, skills, arts, etc. of a given people in a given period; civilization.” People define themselves through the culture associated with their country. A culture is an important piece of identity for each person of the world. With diverse cultures throughout the world, people’s lifestyles vary greatly. America is a unique combination of people because it has a mixture of everyone’s culture joined as the “American culture”.
America is a country with an abundance of unique cultural aspects and ways of life. Popular culture, commonly referred to as pop culture, is a combination of the most evident things that define a specific culture. The popular culture found throughout America is unique in that it is filled with the diversity of many other countries’ cultures. American culture today is defined by its strong liberties and unique popular culture. The liberties of America are defined by The Declaration of Independence, and the country’s freedoms are symbolized by the stars and stripes on the American flag that represents our country.
The Declaration of Independence is a document that delivers Americans’ their rights and liberties. With a strong foundation of ideals, this document provides the framework for American culture; it is filled with the words Americans lives by each day. The liberation found in America is unique when compared to any other country; America is a land of free speech, free worship, and free rights. America’s blanket of freedom is desired by many all over the world. The Declaration of Independence opens with a strong message of American ways of life, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…” (United States). With these ideals evident in American lives, the American flag waves proudly throughout the lands.
The stars and stripes that wave over America represent the freedoms and liberties of America:
By law, the new 50-star flag will become the official flag of the United States on July 4, 1960, the birthday of the Union. Display of the new flags before that time would be improper. However, it would not be improper to display the 48-star and the 49-star flag after that date; with limited exceptions agencies of the Federal Government will continue to display the 48-star and the 49-star flag so long as they remain in good condition and until existing stocks of unused flags are exhausted. It is appropriate for all citizens to do the same. Historic U.S. flags are due the same honor and respect that are given today’s colors. When a historic flag is carried or displayed with a present-day flag, the modern flag takes precedence (History of the Stars and Stripes).
The respect given to the American flag is the same respect given to the country. The flag is the strongest definition of America culture that can be seen and understood all over the world. The impact the flag has on America can be seen in the support Americans give their country by flying its red, white, and blue colors.
American experienced an enormous immigration wave of 20 million people between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The first wave of immigrants came mostly from Germany, Ireland, Great Britain, and the Scandinavian countries. The “new” immigrants were Poles, Russians, Slovaks, Italians, and Asians. Major cities were the homes to what appeared as small countries; places such as The Hill, Little Italy, and Chinatown developed for these people to retain their heritage and culture. Many immigrants came to America because of failed economies, religious persecution, and the better opportunities.
Because American is filled with diverse people, it has been labeled a “melting pot”. With a large number of immigrants creating the American population, a diverse culture emerged throughout the country. This diversity is what makes American culture unique to other countries. Joyce Millet gives a colorful explanation for American diversity:
The old “melting pot” metaphor is giving way to new metaphors such as “salad bowl” and “mosaic”, mixtures of various ingredients that keep their individual characteristics. Immigrant populations within the United States are not being blended together in one “pot”, but rather they are transforming American Society into a truly multicultural mosaic (Millet).
The multiculturalism exhibited in America is merely the combination of many different cultures. The idea of a “salad bowl” mixture is more defining of the multiculturalism found in America. The varying cultures found in America blend across the lands.
America had been divided up into many distinct regions, the West, the South, the Midwest, the Great Lakes & Great Plains, the East, and the Pacific States. Each piece of American pie that these regions represent is uniquely defined by distinctive characteristics and flavors. “Americans often think of themselves not only as coming from a particular ethnic heritage, but also of being part of a geographical region,” explains Joyce Millet in her article From Melting Pot to Salad Bowl (Millet). With a further look into each region, the piece of culture “mixed in” is evident.
The West is a land filled with a “frontier spirit”. With the American Indian heritage associated with the West, many other aspects of Western life play a role in American culture. Cowboys and rodeos are often associated with the West. Cowboys are well-known American heroes and the foundation of many songs, fashion styles, and other folklore. Dust clouds and tumble weeds give the calm, peaceful, no-worries scene of America.
The South is known for sweet-tea, slow talking southern drawls, and southern hospitality. With its colorful people, the South is a very unique region of America. The tobacco and cotton industries put the South on the map. The famous novel Gone With the Wind gave people all over the land a glimpse into the life of a Southern belle. Even with large cities today, such as Atlanta, New Orleans, and Little Rock, the traditional Southern American culture is still seen.
The Midwest is known as the “bread-basket” of America. With wheat fields and corn fields to the horizon in every direction, it is not hard to figure out how the Midwest contributes to the culture, the farmers. The lifeline of the Midwest is the Mississippi River, and this river inspired the works of Mark Twain. Mark Twain developed the character Huckleberry Finn, and this classic character has become a famous member of American literature.
The Great Lakes region has played an important role in the industrialization of America. The Ford car plant being the major industry known today, the Great Lakes region has developed the American mass automobile production. The Great Plains are home to the prairies and prairie heroes. “Wyatt Earp, and “Wild Bill” Hickok, two legendary lawmen, ruled the frontier towns of Dodge City and Abilene” (Millet). This region has played a more important role in the more modern culture of America.
The East has much of a historical aspect of American culture. New England is the home of the pilgrims, the witchcraft trials, and sexy northern accents without any r’s. Many immigrants came to America through the Northern harbors. With a massive flood of original immigrants in the New York harbors, New York City is still one of the most diverse cities in America. The East Coast is home to the largest military bases and the American militaries are the strength behind our freedoms.
The Pacific States include Hawaii and Alaska. With volcanoes and clear waters, Hawaii has become a large tourist operation of America. Many people travel the Hawaiian islands for peaceful vacations. The rigid Alaskan state is home of snow, igloos, and Eskimos. With a distinct culture based on the land and family, Alaskans live through many conditions that other Americans could never endure.
The regions of the American lands have distinct individual cultures, but America is a blending of all of these cultures. American pop culture has many distinguishing characteristics. From A-Z you can find something that is unique to American culture. Amusement parks are America’s way of combining the theater and the circus. Disney World and Disney Land are the American amusement parks known all over the world by people of all ages. Disney World and Disney Land are examples of “amusement utopia” (Inge 17). Baseball is the American pastime. With the beginning of spring comes birds chirping, flowers blooming, and the cracks of the bats. Baseball is a sport that every child plays growing up, and the baseball greats like Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, and Ozzie Smith give the inspirations. Coca-cola is one the official American soda pops. This soda pop is known all over the world and is enjoyed by many. “Always Coca-Cola!” Democracy is the form of government keeping America in order. The people have a voice in the American government through voting rights. ECSC, the East Coast Surfing Championship, is the biggest surfing championship found on the East Coast beach. Virginia Beach is home of this tournament every summer, and many diverse people attend. Founding fathers devised and implemented the idea of a free country. These men felt as though the people of the land should make the decisions of their life. With the signatures of these men, America as we know it today is filled with independence.
Graffiti is a major characteristic of the urban pop culture of America (Inge 809). Every major downtown city shows the detailed pictures and “tags” of individuals and gangs. Many cities appear defaced by graffiti, but this color spilled over the walls and buildings is very important to the urban population. Hollywood is the home of the stars. Movies, music, and other entertainment industries are prominent in Hollywood California. This is the land of the stars that entertain Americans. Igloos are the homes of many Eskimos of Alaska. These people have adapted to the cold weather of the state in these special homes. Jeeps are one of the most popular off-road vehicles bought in America. Katsup is the popular condiment for hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries. Lost colony of Roanoke was the first attempted settlement of America, but this colony is no longer in existence. Settled in the late sixteenth century, this colony consisted of 90 men, 17 women, and 9 children.
Mustangs are American cars known for their speed and sleek look. New York City is home to more people than any other city in America. Diverse cultures, Broadway musicals, and crazy taxi drivers are found throughout the city. Oregon Trail is the trail used by the people to migrate out to the West with the least amount of obstacles. The craze to move out west to the “New Frontier” was a challenging travel. With few mountains and rivers to cross, The Oregon Trail was the ideal path to the new Western lands. Popcorn is enjoyed by most Americans as they watch a movie. With butter and salt, this snack is consumed in theaters and living rooms all over America each day and night. Quotes of stocks from Wall Street are constantly fluctuating. The stock market on Wall Street is played by many Americans. Rolling Rock, a popular college beer, is recognized by its distinct green bottle. The quality and cheap characteristics appeal to the younger drinking crowd of America. “A unique state of beer” is the slogan associated with this pale ale.
Statue of Liberty, dedicated in 1886, stands 151’1″ tall in the New York Harbor, and it reminds all Americans and visitor of the freedoms found in America. Tagalongs are peanut butter patties sold by the Girl Scouts during cookie season. UFO’s are studied in the secret Area 51. Often this military base is thoughts of as a symbol representing the alleged U.S. Government UFO cover-up. Veterans that fought bravely for the United States of America are honored with many memorials and ceremonies throughout the year. Washington D.C. is the capital of America and home of the President. X-Files took America’s attention for nine years as a weekly television science-fiction series. Yo-yo’s are popular toys for children of all ages to play with. Duncan Yo-yo’s are the most popular of the stringed amusements. Zoos across America are homes to many animals that are injured, endangered, or physically unable to live in the wild. The diversity found throughout the people is also seen with the animals of the zoos. The pop culture of America extends in many directions, but every letter of the alphabet can describe some aspect of American culture.
Today it is important to realize what American culture is for reasons of support and pride. With conflicts around the world that America is involved in, each person of this country should know what their culture is and celebrate every aspect each day. The unique characteristics of American life provide the paths of free life and liberties. Each person that flies the stars and stripes on the United State’s flag should understand what they are flying. The pride associated with the American flag is known all over the world.
Not every country understands and supports the ideal of America, and these countries have an opinion based on obscured knowledge. The Congolese, in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, make an opinion of Americans and their ways based on the Price family and other missionaries that visit them. Nathan Price, husband and father, demonstrates a stubborn, egotistical American. Orleanna Price, wife and mother, is a very passive southern woman. Timid and quiet, she keeps her fear of her daughters to herself. Rachel Price is the daughter that uses her looks and materialistic ways of life to look stupid to the Congolese. Believing that her mirror is her most prized possession, Rachel gives a negative perspective of American girls. Leah Price is a typical American girl that idealizes her father, even after realizing his offensive ways she shows her love for him. One family’s misperceptions gave the Congolese doubt in all American ways. Many foreign countries have an opinion, positive or negative, of Americans before they encounter them.
The world understands the super-power of America and is respected by many countries. Without the luxuries and freedoms that many Americans take for granted every day, many foreign people are envious of the American way of life. The United States Armed Forces fight everyday to protect the independence of American lands. American culture is relevant to society because people should be aware of what is fought to protect in each conflict this country faces with other countries. The freedoms given in America are protected by the military that must fight when the country and its culture is threatened.
This topic was important to research because it is important to know the characteristics of America life that is the culture. Living in such a free country is a great privilege, and many Americans take that privilege for granted. The culture that is lived each and every day by everyone in America should be clear and evident, there should never be a question as to why life is lived a certain way. Appreciation for culture and its diversity is important in American life.