Open to Growth in America

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Updated: Aug 19, 2023
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Beginning in 1931, the idea of being open to growth blossomed into a large amount of literature, permeating the experiences of the following times: the 1930s with the Great Depression, the 1940s with World War II, and the 2000s with 9/11. During the Great Depression, our country was in poverty. In October of 1929, known as Black Thursday, the stock market crashed. The mass destruction and ensuing chaos led to stockbrokers jumping out of the investment buildings where they worked, causing a recession that lasted for ten years.

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The catalyst for the stock market crash was President Herbert Hoover. Rising unemployment rates led to the creation of “Hoovervilles”, or shanty houses, across the United States. Unfortunately, it was World War II that ultimately pulled America out of its economic decline, creating countless factory jobs for those not serving. On September 11, a major setback took place in America. The tragedy resulted in 2,996 people losing their lives, inevitably leading the country into war.

Throughout these years, America went to war with a group named Al Qaeda – the same organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks. This group was led by a man named Osama Bin Laden; this fact shows a connection throughout America’s history – problems with horrific dictators always seem to come into play. Whether it was Hitler who orchestrated the Nazi’s, Benito Mussolini who ran the fascist party, or Joseph Stalin who exterminated millions of his own people, these dictators illustrate why America, a capitalist nation, is considered the greatest country in the world.

On Thursday, October 24, 1929, a day now referred to as “Black Thursday”, the stock market crashed due to 12.9 million shares of stock being sold by panicked shareholders. A mere five days later, on “Black Tuesday”, 16 million shares were traded due to another wave of panic from Wall Street. In the year 1933, the lowest point in the recession, nearly 25% of the nation’s workforce was unemployed – adding up to 12,830,000 jobless people in America.

Averaging the statistics, wage income for employed Americans plummeted by 43%. Farm prices dropped drastically, pushing farmers into bankruptcy, forcing them to forfeit their homes and land (Sahoboss). The U.S. was in disarray. This depression showcased true American poverty and proved to socialists that capitalism is capable of failing. However, it also demonstrated that capitalism is the best type of governance when underpinned by a strong economy.

On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed an American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. The war had initially begun in 1939; however, the U.S. had been attempting to avoid involvement. Nevertheless, an attack on American property virtually guaranteed a military response, signaling a conflict with a formidable enemy. Consequently, the attack brought the U.S. together, with men eager to serve their country. America’s entry into the war bolstered the economy due to an increase in factory production, which in turn created more factory jobs. In addition, 16 million men, representing 11% of the population, enlisted in the military. Despite the war and chaos abroad, it was a period of economic prosperity inside the U.S.

A 26-year-old man named Desmond Doss served as an unarmed medic during World War II. As a pacifist, he refrained from using a gun. Serving with the 307th Infantry, in April 1945, Doss’ battalion was commissioned to fight near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, one of the last and most significant battles in the Pacific. To confront the enemy, Doss and his battalion had to ascend a 400-foot cliff, which was dubbed “Hacksaw Ridge”. Atop the cliff were numerous armed Japanese soldiers. Doss is credited with saving 75 of his fellow soldiers, sometimes under direct enemy fire. For hours, Doss administered first aid to the injured and lowered them down the cliff using a rope sling.

Doss famously prayed, “Dear God, let me get just one more man,” after each successful attempt at lowering an injured comrade down the cliff. A few days later, as the U.S. was slowly advancing on the Japanese, Doss was injured in the leg by a grenade. He waited five hours for help to arrive, during which he patched himself up as best he could. When help finally arrived, he was placed on a stretcher and carried to an aid house. En route, they were attacked, and Doss insisted that another injured soldier take his stretcher. Subsequently, Doss was hit by a sniper, shattering his arm. Despite enduring three assaults in one day, Doss proved his tenacity (Lange).

For his military heroism, Desmond Doss was recognized as a true hero. He returned to the states in October 1945, a month after the war had ended. Following surgery, he was immediately taken to Washington D.C. to meet President Harry S. Truman and receive the Medal of Honor. Doss was also awarded the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star (Lange). The fact that Doss received three U.S. military awards without taking a single life is extraordinary. Desmond Doss’ story has greatly inspired many, making a significant impact that it was made into a movie titled “Hacksaw Ridge”.

A novel called “Lord of the Flies,” written by William Golding and published in 1954, makes a connection in this era. The story is about a group of young men who crash land on an island and have to learn how to survive with each other. Eventually, utter chaos breaks loose and the boys start to form anarchy-based governments against each other, ultimately killing one another. This story can be relatable.

In America, as the country took a devastating fall, similar to the boys in the story, we also went through a deadly war. However, unlike the boys in the book, America stayed stronger as a unit throughout the whole crisis. The boys in the story began to kill each other. The unity that is chosen, not forced upon people, is capable of winning. The boys in the novel did not choose to crash land on an island and survive until help was found. In a way, their unity was forced upon them.

Martin Luther King Jr., a Civil Rights leader in the 1950s and 1960s, was a pacifist. Just like Desmond Doss, his main goal was to achieve equal rights for African Americans. He accomplished this through peaceful boycotts, protests, and marches. King’s strategy proved to be effective as legislatures began passing more civil rights laws. King was open to the growth of all people’s equality. In 1963, King led a march of more than 200,000 people in Washington D.C.

These people were marching for the rights and equality of all workers within the workforce, as well as all teachers and students within schools. This march culminated in King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. The speech had a profound emotional impact on the masses in D.C. watching King, as well as on the millions of other Americans watching him on television. This speech made America open to the growth of racial equality.

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. His killer, James Earl Ray, shot King from a building across the street while King was standing on a second-floor balcony of a motel. Ray died in prison in 1998 from kidney failure, which he had been treating for years. King’s death dramatically affected the nation. In fact, even 50 years later, a national holiday named after him still stands. Martin Luther King Jr. led Americans to remain open to racial growth, well after his death.

In July of 1969, mankind achieved its greatest accomplishment. Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon, proclaiming, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” This feat, going from an economic depression, to a war, to a moon landing, truly characterizes greatness. It gives us hope for the future and reminds us that greatness still has yet to come. This compels us to remain open to the growth of scientific research and advancements in technology.

“The Eagle Has Landed,” written by Jack Higgins and published in 1975, has significant ties to the 1960s. The name of the novel is reminiscent of the actual moon landing; in fact, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong made a similar assertion. The novel revolves around World War II, specifically the conflict between the Nazis and the British. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights leader who championed equality, lived through this war. However, Hitler, who was responsible for the murder of millions of Jews, contradicted everything King stood for. Hitler singularly targeted a specific group of people for their religious beliefs.

In 1975, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak established Apple in Jobs’ parents’ garage. Their first product, a miniaturized personal computer called the Apple I, generated sales that funded the Apple II’s launch. This upgraded version featured a color screen and a keyboard and launched in 1977. A year after its release, it had generated $3 million in sales, and two years later, earnings reached a sensational $200 million. This marked the inception of Apple, which has since evolved into the world’s largest company, commanding a remarkable sense of loyalty from consumers.

The company flourished through the 90s and gained significant traction in the mid-2000s with the release of the iPhone and iPod, essentially the first portable computers. These devices transformed communication by providing access to the internet, people, and features like a built-in camera. Despite Jobs’ unfortunate death on October 5, 2011, his legacy of innovation endures. He revolutionized the technology landscape, opening minds to its limitless possibilities. Who could have predicted that the same device could be used to call someone, Google something, or take a photo? Jobs’ creative innovations have kept the American people open to the growth of more innovations yet to come.

On September 11, 2001, a devastating attack claimed the lives of American citizens when two planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people, including 19 hijackers. The attack had a global impact, not only affecting America. With casualties spanning 78 different nationalities, the attack antagonized many countries allied with the U.S. The sole positive outcome was the unity it elicited amongst Americans. They became more patriotic and empathetic, irrespective of political allegiance. In fact, on the day of the attack, politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, joined hands, urging the country to unite and mourn their losses ( editors).

Leaders all over the world had something to say about the attack, including Vladimir Putin, who called it “a blatant challenge to humanity.” The leader of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, claimed, “It is not only an attack on the people in the United States, our friends in America, but also against the entire civilized world, against our own freedom, against our own values, which we share with the American people.” This attack caused unity between countries, a phenomenon we don’t always view positively in retrospect due to events like World War I. Yet, in this case, unity was vitally important. America declared war on the group responsible for the attack, Al Qaeda, and targeted their leader, Osama Bin Laden. Fast forward 11 years later, during President Barack Obama’s tenure, Osama Bin Laden was tracked down and killed by the elite SEAL Team 6.

This news brought relief to the U.S.; the knowledge that the enemy was gone and could no longer cause harm was comforting. The 11-year-long journey to locate Bin Laden finally came to an end. This manhunt journey is depicted in the movie Zero Dark Thirty. The attack brought unity among Americans, and Bin Laden’s death provided relief. Throughout all these years, people remained open to growth, maintaining faith in the pursuit and ultimate capture of Bin Laden.

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Open To Growth in America. (2020, Feb 02). Retrieved from