58 letters on the American Dream from San Marcos University students, San Diego, California, USA
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letter 57: Ron Reiter

The term “American Dream” is defined for me as having the freedom to pursue anything that you want to do with your life, as long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others. It means having the freedom of getting an education, entering the work force, joining the military, anything that a person wishes to do, he or she can do it. It means shaping your life as you see fit;however, once your actions infringe upon anyone else’s rights, your right to your dream is forfeited. If you are a mass murderer and you get caught by the police, when they ask you why you killed all those people and you respond “It was my American Dream,” they aren’t just going to let you free. There are always consequences, and individuals must think about their so called “American Dream” before they try and pursue it. But, as long as your dream does not affect others in a negative way, you should have the freedom to try and make your dream a reality. Because of this freedom, the American Dream is different for everyone. I don’t like the definition of having a house in the suburbs, white picket fence, two children and one dog, to me that is really not what the American Dream is all about. Trying to constrict the American Dream into something that everyone wants will not work, because then its not the American Dream anymore, it is a dream of society where everyone is the same, and I don’t think that works. You cannot have the American Dream forced on you, because then it is not your dream, and it probably isn’t what you want to do. If you start to group everyone together and make them all have the same dreams and goals, the system will not work, because people are different.

I don’t know a lot about my family history and their pursuit of the American Dream. I do not live with my biological father and don’t know much about his family history and how his family came to America and for what reasons. I do know that on my mother’s side, my grandfather was an orphan as a child. He grew up in an orphanage, and had a rough life. Once he got older, he started a family and joined the Air Force. My mother and her three siblings traveled to many countries, such as Germany, Italy, Canada, and also lived in many different States here in the U.S., such as Illinois and Washington because my grandfather was in the Air Force. I don’t know if this was my grandfather’s idea of the American Dream, he died when I was three so I never really got to ask him any questions. But I think that that must have been his dream, to travel around the world and serving his country at the same time, I think he must have decided sometime in his life that that was the right thing for him. I think he lived his American Dream.