What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Ideas

What’s the Deal With Canned Cranberry Sauce?

The Pilgrims’ Plates Looked Nothing Like the Holiday Meal We Eat Today

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By Susan Evans
November 27, 2014

No American holiday conjures up images and memories of food like Thanksgiving. Starting in preschool, most of us learned that Thanksgiving commemorates the moment in 1621 when Pilgrims sat down for a peaceful meal with their Indian friends. They wore funny hats and buckle shoes that are conveniently easy to replicate out of construction paper. They ate turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and stuffing … just like I ate with my family every year in Stanfordville, New York, after watching …

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The ‘Hot, Foul, Sultry Air’ of Ellis Island

What It Was Like at the Main Gateway to the U.S. in the Early 20th Century

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October 17, 2014

Immigrants arrive in the U.S. today at thousands of entry points, by plane, boat, car, and foot. But for decades at the turn of the 20th century, the harbor at Ellis Island was the main gateway to America. The recently erected Statue of Liberty welcomed these huddled masses, and the hive of activity that was New York City buzzed just beyond.

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Is Tony Soprano Quintessentially American?

Christopher Columbus Is No Longer the Iconic Italian-American. And That Might Be a Good Thing.

Christopher Columbus, parade, Columbus Day Parade, Italian-American

By Nancy Foner
October 10, 2014

It used to be that Christopher Columbus was the major iconic representative of the Italian-American community in popular culture, but he has since given way to the likes of Tony Soprano and all the Hollywood-inspired gangsters that came before him.

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America Is More of a Club Than a Family

Our Ability to Opt in—or Out—Defines Our National Character

America Is More of a Club Than a Family

By Claude S. Fischer
September 22, 2014

Over the course of the last 15 years or so, there’s been an explosion in the number of charter schools around the country. According to the latest figures (from 2012), some 2.1 million students are enrolled in schools run by private groups awarded public money.

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