As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, let’s reflect on the history of our country.

Patriotism evokes different things for different people — often, it evokes different things for just one person. The U.S. is complicated, its history marked by both awesome beauty and profound injustice. And so its people are complicated too: their backgrounds, experiences, and values are diverse and nuanced. Let’s celebrate that. This Independence Day, hear what it means to be an American right from the source. Listen to these extraordinary stories from remarkable people, all of whom make up this complicated, beautiful, and diverse country.

The following stories were drawn from across the various StoryCorps initiatives, each of which highlights voices from a particular group of people living in the U.S. As you listen, click the links at the bottom of the descriptions to explore the corresponding initiative.

What’s your U.S.A. experience? By uploading an interview to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress, you and a loved one preserve your stories for generations. Download the StoryCorps App to record a conversation and add it directly to the collection. If an in-person interview isn’t an option, use StoryCorps Connect to conduct it remotely.

Albert and Aidan Sykes

Aidan Sykes, a 9-year-old from Mississippi, interviews his father Albert about growing up Black, the importance of protest, and dreams for the future. From StoryCorps Griot.

“Because she was Asian, they wouldn’t accept her. Mom said she didn’t care; she enlisted anyway.”
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Remembering One Tough Veteran: Lieutenant Susan Ahn Cuddy

Susan Ahn Cuddy faced discrimination as the first Asian American woman in the Navy. Her children, Flip and Christine, remember her life. From the Military Voices Initiative.

“I want people to look at us as human beings who went through a lot, and survived.”
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‘We Are Americans’: Somali Father And Son Remember Fleeing War To Resettle In U.S.

Father and son Aden and Jamal Batar fled war-torn Somalia for Utah. They discuss the difficulties of adjusting to life in the U.S. and being viewed as outsiders. From the American Pathways Initiative.

Where I Come From

The U.S. government forced Barnie Botone’s great-grandfather, a Kiowa chief, to board a train and leave his tribe’s land behind. Almost a century later, Barnie got a job on the railroad. From the StoryCorps animated season, “This Land.”

The Golden Rule

“I don’t think we could be any further apart as people.” Joseph Weidknecht, a Trump supporter, sits down with Amina Amdeen, a Muslim student who rescued him at an anti-Trump rally. From One Small Step.

"I told you that one day, you were going to go here to Stanford."
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Francisco and Frankie Preciado

Francisco Preciado, a janitor at Stanford University, once dreamed of becoming a teacher. Years later, his son Frankie enrolled as a student there. From StoryCorps Historias.

"I have to do at least what I can to give those values a voice."
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StoryCorps Extra: Giving Values a Voice

Shyamala Keshamouni and her son Abhinand reflect on their desire to preserve their Indian heritage while looking forward to participating in a U.S. presidential election for the first time. From the StoryCorps Archive.

"What is it that people who have never been incarcerated before don’t get?"
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Terry Banies and Darryl Cooke

Terry Banies and Darryl Cooke consider incarceration — their experiences with it, its historical roots, and its disproportionate impact on Black Americans even after re-entry. From the Justice Project.

Alexis Martinez and Lesley Martinez Etherly

Alexis Martinez and her daughter Lesley discuss Alexis’s struggle for acceptance as a transgender woman and her eventual motherhood. From Stonewall OutLoud.

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