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Life, Liberty and the American Identity: What is the American Identity and why is it a portrait recognized around the world?

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As part of the BBC World Service “Identity” season The Why Factor explores how the one of the fundamental tenets of our personal make up, our national identity.

Few countries have a stronger sense of themselves than the United States of America and few are so strongly drawn in the minds of people right across the world. The ubiquity of McDonalds, America’s unflinching patriotism and loyalty to the flag, the country’s foreign military interventions, sometimes disastrous, other times not, its religious devotion and its long drawn out, highly public elections, all form part of the uniquely American character.

In this documentary, Mike Williams asks what makes up the identity of an American. At Ellis Island in New York, he will explore the setting which greeted generations of European immigrants who made the country a melting pot. He will visit the Alamo in Texas and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to draw on America’s myths and legends and ask how a unique devotion to the Constitution has evolved into a devout and demonstrative patriotism which seems ubiquitous in all walks of life. And, he will look at the ever present issues of race and wealth and ask if they still determine the identity each citizen has placed upon them.

(Image: Crowds at the Veterans Day ceremony in Washington DC/ Credit: Win McNamee/Getty)

US National Anthem sung by Lady Antebellum at the 2010 Sugar Bowl

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