With the Fourth of July around the corner, there is a lot to reflect on as a nation from the past year. For many this is a time of celebration, to celebrate our nation and our diverse history. However, there is also much to learn as we navigate the country today.

Thoughts of country and patriotism evoke different things for different people — often, they evoke different, conflicting notions for just one person. The U.S. is complicated, its history marked by both incredible beauty and profound injustice. And so its people are complicated too: their backgrounds, experiences, and values are diverse and nuanced. Let’s recognize and honor that. This Independence Day, hear what it means to be a part of the United States 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.

"I wanted him to show them that he could do what anybody else can do."
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Breaking Baseball’s Color Barrier

Harold Lucas, Jr. attended Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Royals in Daytona Beach when he was just a small boy. At StoryCorps, he remembers that day and the inspiration that followed him. From StoryCorps Griot.

“I was right there between two cultures that I love.”
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For Those Left Behind: An Afghan American Marine Reflects On His Homeland

When he was five, Ajmal Achekzai fled his home in Afghanistan for the United States at the start of the Soviet-Afghan War. Ajmal returned over 20 years later, but as a U.S. Marine. From the Military Voices Initiative.

A Mother’s Promise

Maria Rivas and her teenage daughter Emily prepare for the possibility of Maria returning to El Salvador if she is forced to leave the U.S. 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.

The Icing on the Cake

Blanca Alvarez immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1972. She crossed the border with her husband and son while she was pregnant with her daughter, Connie. At StoryCorps, Blanca and Connie remember those early years. 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 were the first few days like in jail?”
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28 Months Without Freedom

At 17, Asad Kerr-Giles was wrongfully imprisoned and spent the next 28 months on Rikers Island. Asad and his mother, April Kerr, talk about his first few days in jail. From the Justice Project.

Love Lost, And Found

Sue McConnell and Kristyn Weed are best friends and Vietnam-era veterans. Although they didn’t serve in the war together, they share a story of courage — on and off the battlefield. From Stonewall OutLoud.

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