Before I chose this image, I was having a difficult time thinking about a singular image that matched my thoughts on how I see America. For a little inspiration, I looked out of my window and saw a building under construction nearby where I live. Inside, I saw a construction worker shoveling away the fallen concrete and mortar and throwing up a cloud of dust with each movement. At that point, I knew that this man was exactly the image of America that I hoped to find. Seeing the construction worker brought me to the famous photograph seen above, “Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam).”
There are two concepts from this photograph that I believe convey how I see America. The first is that these men are construction workers. Now, I know that is a rather obvious and silly observation, but it does mean a lot to me. These men are the backbone of America. They are the part of the labor force that literally builds their way from the ground up to give us our cities. Cities are essential building blocks in establishing a civilization. They are the culmination and proof of a society that has achieved prosperity. Without the construction workers, we would find it more difficult to display our strength as a nation.
The second concept is that these men are free. By free, I mean that they are sitting on a crossbeam several hundred feet above New York City. This photo was taken in 1932, during the Great Depression. In the midst of a broken economy, these men are enjoying their lunches at a dangerously high altitude without any safety measures to protect them. As such, they are free to choose to go back down among the people struggling to make a living and search for new work, take a much darker turn by simply sliding off the crossbeam, or continue a dream of reaching toward the sky as they build higher and higher. They can choose what they wish to do with their lives, and that is what America really means to me: freedom to choose our paths. With all the successes and failures that come with our choices, the ability to make decisions of our own free will is what really solidifies this picture as how I see America. I see it from the crossbeam.