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A Nation Engaged: What Milwaukee Veterans and Family Members Say it Means to be an American

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This election year, WUWM and other public radio stations have collaborated with NPR on A Nation Engaged. The project has probed voters on how they feel about a variety of issues.

In our final installments this week, we ask Milwaukeeans what it means to them to be Americans, and what the next president could do to advance that vision. We collected these responses at a job fair for veterans in Milwaukee.

"My name is Antonio Guajardo. I spent six years in the Army, U.S. Army, from 1971 through 1977. For me, being an American is basically being part of an ideology that we are free to pursue our own goals, I mean, we have freedoms. We're all made of different groups, I mean we're not one group. So the next leader has to be able to take all these different groups and be able to function as one. So we have to be inclusive."

"My name is Randy Jackson, I'm a Desert Storm vet, eight years in the Navy. What it means for me to be an American is to be able to have a good quality of life and be able to take care of my family, you know, my grandchildren, be able to go anywhere that I want to go and not have to be checked and harassed and show my ID, (and to) pray to anybody I want to publicly. The next president who gets in, they got to look at the core issues of the United States, of people. We got to take care of our families, we got to take care of our people that's here, you know, get 'em right. Get the Hispanic people right. If they're here, they're here. You know, we can't just get rid of people. And nobody from America is from America, the Indians was here before we was here, you know, really."

"My name is Chanel Warren. My husband Charles Warren, Jr. served in Vietnam. What does it mean to be an American? Um, I don't know. I just -- I think I take it for granted, actually, so I really had never given that any thought. I know it's a privilege, you know, and I'm proud to be an American, because my husband served for a reason, you know, and so I think that's all I got. I'm going to have to think on that."

Ann-Elise is WUWM's news director.
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