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Where to find exceptional America
The Lincoln Memorial is one stop on our tour of exceptional American sites.
July 4th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Where to find exceptional America

By Katia Hetter, CNN

(CNN) - This week, CNN is exploring American exceptionalism - the concept that the United States is exceptional when compared to other nations and is uniquely destined to bring democracy to the world.

That notion of American exceptionalism was promoted by the nation's founders and earliest leaders. It's especially evident in the places where the Puritans first landed and built their first settlements, where explorers traveled westward to fulfill the country's manifest destiny, and to purchase or take land by force.

"The American sites that evoke a sense of American exceptionalism are many; they include places that mark the history of our struggles to secure and protect liberty, and places that evoke the promise and opportunity that generations have found in America," says Thomas S. Kidd, a Baylor University history professor, a senior fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of "Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots," "God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution" and other early American history books.

We asked several American historians where they enjoy exploring the history of the United States. Here are some of their favorite spots:

Washington, D.C. There's nothing wrong with enjoying some of the United States' more well-known monuments to its history. A trip to Washington could include a visit to the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the National Archives. The National Archives Building Rotunda displays the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (If this history lesson bores the children, promise them a visit to the International Spy Museum later.)

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  1. Pasiv

    To have a chance for true chgnae, we must take lesson from our past Our history proves we have a foundation of rebellious nature among other questionable behaviors. Let's not argue that but accept it! Now we have a rebellious president who refuses to do things based on the same old policies, procedures and political traditions. I have read the opinions and blogs of others on various website, I see a people afraid of the unknown Without rebellious people like OBAMA true leaders do not exists! If there were not rebellious people standing up for civil rights of woman and minorities than we would still be living in a world as backwards as some third world countries. Without people who are not afraid to admit that the old policies, procedures and practices of this nation are failing the people than progress will not be made. To break free from a failing system something completely new and different must take place and many will not understand the new at first.Obama's leadership style is democratic meaning internal drives and impulses that are centered on human relations and teamwork. He fosters communication that is open and usually two-way creates a spirit of collaboration and joint effort that result in staff satisfaction. I agree he does have some traits of permissive (laissez-faire) style, internal drives and impulses that tend to have some established policies; but abstains from complete leadership. What that tells me about President Obama is that he has enough humility and compassion for others to admit that being the President of the United States is not a ONE MAN JOB! Unless it is Jesus Christ himself than there is not a MAN capable, trustworthy or intelligent enough to handle that load! He is a leader who teaches us to work together. As humans we are all imperfect and until we all fully grasps that concept than many President Bush’s (prideful and self centered) will destroy this country. I wish people would stop judging and being so critical instead ask how they can help. We have a leader who does not mind gathering intelligent minds together so working towards the best possible solution can be achievable. Based on history the democrats do not have all the answers and nor do the Republicans, but given the opportunity to come together no one can come against us! Finally, remember another piece of American history: United we stand divided we fall. We use to be the leading nation in many aspects but now each side, each party and the American people have become so prideful and selfish that we are destroying the fabric that made us great. Yet, one day we will die but our children learning from our mistakes we continue in those mistakes only to destroy what little we have left behind. We cannot continue in the old way the new way must come even if it is uncomfortable at first.Jesus was a rebel in his day too, breaking the traditions of religious leaders and political powers of that time.

    September 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. just say no!

    if the darn censors are that particular on this site.. who the heck needs it

    July 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rob

    I miss the America "American" who had an informed opinion, a personal drive to make himself a better person, Who tried to support his/her family and better their lives without government mandates. My personal belief is people now don't care enough, have enough respect, or dignity to do it on there own.We have nothing but the expectancy for everything to be handed to us.A real American is someone I wish I could believe in again.

    July 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hamsta

    You won't find exceptionalism in a president who apoligizes for everything that makes america great, negotiates with terrorists, relinquishes the role of America as the lone super power of the world, or buries us in debt or taxes. Don't forget Indepence day was America's answer to tyrannical, intrusive, over reaching, over controlling, and over taxing government. Wait a second, that describes the Obama administration. No exceptionalism tp be found in him, he's just another wannabe third world dictator.

    July 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shirley Allan

    @ Violet- When I came to America I was a Christian, but after seeing what Christianity is all about and the evil it represents from American as demonstrated right here on this blog, I abandoned Christianity, I want no part of that, I do not want to be identified with that!!

    July 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |