In the word “American” are the words “I CAN.” Because of this country, I can freely speak, I can openly worship, I can unrestrictedly vote, and I can readily pursue the dreams that I have. To me, America is more than a beautiful and prosperous country; America is my home, my heritage, and my hope.

The cliché, “There is no place like home,” is undoubtedly true. I have traveled throughout this country literally from sea to shining sea, and I have fallen in love with its elegance and charm. Not only is America’s land lovely, but its people are united. Despite the diverse cultures, backgrounds, and upbringings, the American people have been able to work together under a balanced government. The land and the people definitely make America a home to me; but above all, my family, friends, and loved ones who live here are the primary reasons why I call America my “home.”

I am so blessed to have been born in America. I have recently gone back to the state where I was born: Hawaii. When I visited Oahu, I did more than just “vacation.” I was able to connect with relatives that I had not seen for over a decade and re-discover the stories of my great-grandparents. Because of my great-grandmother, my grandma and her siblings were able to come to America. I would not be here in this wonderful country if it were not for the heritage that my great-grandparents have left for me.

Hope is the anticipation of good for the future. I have hope for this country and this people. We are always one generation away from losing the gift of freedom in America. As Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” I believe it is my duty as an American to help properly educate the next generation about our history, our freedoms, and our rights. For when one can understand our history, one will understand the direction of our future.

I thank God that I live in America. There is no place I would rather be. America has given me a precious home, a valuable heritage, and an undying hope.

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Charlene Ilan, GSBC Professor

Miss Charlene Ilan and her family have been faithful members of NVBC for over a decade. She is an alumna of North Valley Baptist Schools and Golden State Baptist College and now teaches at GSBC in the English and Music Departments.