In honor of Independence Day, LatinoVoices and Define American bring you personal stories from all walks of life on what it means to be American.
Senator Bob Menendez is a product of the 50s, born in New York City to Cuban immigrant parents. He entered the public service at the age of 19 as a college student and rose through the ranks to become the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives-- representing New Jersey's 13th congressional district -- to Senator of the Unites States since 2006.
From his days as Mayor of Union City (1986–1992), Menendez has fought to make health care more affordable, campaigned to improve the education system for generations to come and has led the fight to stop the privatization of Social Security.
So, what does Sen. Menendez think defines an American?
"It is about living and contributing to the ideals that makes America," he said in the video for Define American. "It's about opportunity, it's about freedom, it is about contributing with ones sweat, sacrifice and intellect and creativity and ingenuity to make a great contribution to be part of a great country."
Menendez, son of political refugees, is the first member of his family to go to college.
"This is the promise that America fulfills," he says in the video. "that is in part what it means to be an American. Fulfilling the promise, contributing to that promise that is America and the greatest enterprise on the history of mankind. We have brought people from all walks of life, from all parts of the globe to make a very unique and special place called America."
Share Your Story With Us: What is it about being American that we value most? What does 'American' mean to you?