According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ?Public? means of, belonging to, or pertaining to the people as a whole. A public place or thing becomes available to all people who must share and support these places or things through taxes or other charges. All people may visit national parks or monuments which they support through taxes and fees. Public information and ideas may be disseminated to the public for consumption.
The United States prides itself for being a very public nation whereby any person may participate in the act of governing the State at many levels and access to the documents documenting the action of the government. The democratic style of governing promotes public approval and participation. The government makes public laws affecting all individuals in hopes of making every individual equal under the law.
School remains one of the most public aspects of our society. Public education represents the idea of public access to information and ideas. All people have a right to attend school and receive an education under the law regardless of age, sex, race, religion, or physical ability. Public universities allow higher education and any person may apply to these universities. Many other institutions exist as public domain. In this country the National Archives houses many records, photographs, movies, and legal documents which may be read or seen by the public. Other national museums such as the Smithsonian promote free education for the public and facilitate research. Public companies allow the common man to become involved in business through the purchasing of stock.
Public also refers to people in a community or a nation as a whole. Today any person living in our society accounts for the make-up of the public. However, it took many years for this to occur. During the colonial period white landowners accounted for the public as they could read published materials, become educated and participate in the governing of the state. Many of the laws enforced pertained to men only and those laws that pertained to women and blacks existed to prevent their participation in government or education. As time passed the laws changed and women and blacks became accepted members of the public and gained access to education and the right to vote and hold public office. The idea of the public as a whole unifies people in a society.