In June 2005, on the editorial page of the Philadelphia Inquirer, they asked readers to write a 100-200 word essay of what being an American means to them. And to also discuss a time when you most felt like an American. The Inquirer indicated they would  publish selected reader essays on their op-ed page in their July 4th edition. Below is the essay that was submitted to that contest on June 16, 2005 by one of our readers.  It is very revealing.

"To me, being an American Citizen means understanding the conclusive fact that I possess both unalienable Rights as well as Constitutional Rights."

"According to the U.S. supreme Court's decisions in Coppage v.Kansas, 236 U.S. 161 (1908), Allegeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U.S. 578, and, Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 41 (1915), to name only three cases, among these Rights, are the Right to pursue my personal Liberty and Happiness by earning a living and exchanging my labor for cash or other property. Stated simply, working for a living and having a job, is both an unalienable Right and a Constitutional Right."

"To me, being an American Citizen means knowing that the U.S. supreme Court ruled in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943), that the government may not lawfully tax the exercise of unalienable and Constitutional Rights."

"To me, being an American Citizen requires that a Citizen not only be able to demand his or her rights, but also to know what they are. One who does not know their Rights, has no Rights."

"I best understood what it means to be an American Citizen, when, as my New Year's Resolution, I resolved to read 3 U.S. Supreme Court Cases each week for one year. In the course of my readings, I discovered that there are two classes of citizens in this country.

There are those who, like me, are Citizens of their respective Union states, which makes them by default, American Citizens. And then there are those who are federal "U.S. citizens/citizens of the U.S." These "U.S.citizens" are in reality, citizens of the federal government."

"Finally, the difference in these two classes of citizenship are compelling because, inter alia, in Maxwell v. Dow, 176 U.S. 581 (1900), the Supreme Court admitted that "citizens of the U.S." may not avail themselves of the protections of the first eight amendments to the Bill of Rights."

"As an informed American Citizen, I am protected by the Bill of Rights."