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Culture, Society, Values

U.S. society is defined by its diversity. Our population is an extraordinary mix of nearly every ethnic group and race found on earth. Each group has brought its own language, customs, traditions, music, dance, food, and religion -- all of which enrich a society originally defined by our indigenous Native American heritage and the European values imported by the original immigrants in the 1600s.

U.S. music reflects African-American rhythms, Native American myths, the blossoming of gospel, bluegrass, jazz, and rock and roll. We have produced composers such as Joplin, Gershwin, Copeland, and Prince, performers from Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong to Elvis Presley, and singers such as Billie Holiday, Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra, Beverly Sills, and Beyonce. Our dance culture is highlighted by the soaring talents and legacies of Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, and Twyla Tharp, and our comedians range from Mark Twain to Tim Allen and Ray Romano. American authors including Hemingway and Poe, architects Maya Lin and Philip Johnson -- all have left their mark. Our symphony orchestras are world-class performers of American standards as well as European classics. Our film industry sets the bar high for all others in the business. Artists such as Voulkos, Nevelson, O'Keeffe, and Warhol have left behind extraordinary treasures and thought-provoking images. Television, musical theater, Las Vegas glitz and glitter -- they all contribute to an always-evolving American "culture", fed by immigrants and native-born Americans alike.

Our society is as varied as our geography, our political life as vibrant as our artistic creativity and athletic prowess, our communities as bound by convention as they are progressive in thought. Americans and America are constantly on the move, restless and inventive, imaginative and enthusiastic, always drawn by the possibility of discovery and what might be "next".

Though diverse, we are united by basic values and a democratic system that has stood the test of time. We are bound together by the fundamentals and democratic principles outlined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Individual rights and responsibilities, rule of law, government by and for the people. We continue to grow and evolve as a society and democracy. We are opinionated and argumentative, but we are still one -- one nation, with liberty and justice for all.