American Dreams: Then And Now The "American Dream" is a key thread in this country's tapestry, woven through politics, music and culture. Though the phrase means different things to different people, it suggests an implicit contract that if you work hard, you'll move ahead. But as the effects of the economic downturn continues to reverberate, where is the American Dream today?
Sara Millan (left) thanks Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America CEO Bruce Marks after NACA was able to reduce her family's mortgage during an event in Los Angeles in September 2010.
NPR listener Matt Anderson defines the American dream as "having the time, money, health and resources to get to enjoy such simple and whimsical pleasures with my family at our local state fair."
Courtesy of Matt Anderson
Hyungsoo Kim brought his sons Woosuk (left) and Whoohyun to California from Korea so the boys could get an American public-school education. In "goose families," one parent migrates to an English-speaking country with the children, while the other parent stays in Korea.
Jennifer Larr (center) is seen here in Rwanda at the Gashora Girls Academy, where she was a teacher in 2011. Larr is part of a new generation of young adults focusing on travel, studying abroad and global experiences.
Courtesy of Jennifer Larr
Michelle Holshue racked up $140,000 in student loan debt while training to become a public health nurse. She's living her dream of helping others, she says, but never expected it "to be so hard."