This weekend we celebrate our country’s 240th anniversary. Despite what some will have us believe, ours is still the greatest country on Earth. The proof is in the number of people who are clamoring to come here and to become citizens of the United States of America. Sure, we have our issues, but we are still the land of opportunity.
I was born abroad and have spent time in more than two dozen countries. Across the globe, people recognize that this is likely the only country where one can reinvent him or herself over and over again, a country where the caste you were born into doesn’t have to be the class that you die into. When the Pilgrims and the Puritans were looking for a safe haven, they turned to us. The Amish, the Mennonites, the Catholics, the Jews and others that escaped religious and political persecution, famine and economic instability, came here to start anew.
In Cumberland County, many have shared with me stories of their ancestors who settled here and worked the farms or worked in the factories to build wealth and a comfortable life for their children and grandchildren. Our goal at Cumberland County College is to keep the American Dream accessible for all. As our College turns 50 this year, we are renewing our commitment to keep creating ladders for economic mobility for all. The days of building wealth on a factory job that required no education beyond high school are long gone. Middle class jobs of the 21st century require a college credential, minimally.
In Cumberland County, keeping the American Dream alive and accessible is a shared endeavor. From our local Freeholders, to the local Improvement Authority, our Planning Board, and local public school districts—just to name a few—the commitment to higher education as a pathway to the American Dream is a shared value in Cumberland.
As we celebrate the 240th birthday of our country, we celebrate American leadership, entrepreneurialism, vision, can-do attitude, adaptability, openness, and compassion. These are just some of the attributes that make us great. Happy birthday to our extraordinary country! Happy birthday USA.