Americans are one people, one culture, one nation moving in the same direction for the common good regardless of our widely varied backgrounds.

The phrase E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “Out of many, one” is a foundational principle of the United States, so foundational, in fact, that it has been the motto inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States since 1782. At that time, it was meant to signify the coming together of a single nation from what were at the time of our nation’s founding, thirteen independent states. Since then, its meaning has evolved to also herald the principle of being a unified people regardless of the fact that its citizens come from many different backgrounds.

Out of many, one does not mean an absence of disagreement – on the contrary, it is a commitment to work through our differences for the common good of our entire nation and call out those who would divide us. Thomas Jefferson said: ”In order to create and maintain unity, as evidenced by the very process by which the Constitution was forged, personal opinions must be tempered and often compromised for the benefit of the whole. Thus, the spirit of compromise is essential to the workings of our republican form of government; and the spirit of mutual commitment essential to our form of democracy.”

A uniquely defining characteristic of our history and our national character is our ability to achieve unity regardless of our race, color, or creed. How well we continue to meet that challenge will largely determine our ability to remain the world’s greatest nation. President Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

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