The eyes of the world have been set squarely on the United States for much of the past few weeks - but for very different reasons.

Two events have shown America in a new light, from violence in Virginia to heroics in Houston.

The US has been divided for many years, but divisions have widened further in recent times. Old wounds were reopened during the 2016 election campaign. With many of these yet to heal, some have ended up becoming worse.

With polarising political figures and controversial policies, America has entered a new era.

But August 2017 has been a defining moment for the nation that has been forced to look inwards at what it stands for.

Dozens injured and one mother dead. That was not what officials expected when a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent.

The rally had been centred around one of those old fissures in US society - a Confederate statue. Such flags, statues and monuments have become increasingly shunned in recent years, but some people have fought hard to keep them in their place.

A rally containing neo-Nazis and members of the KKK chanting "Jews will not replace us" and "White lives matter" sent reverberations throughout the country and around the world.

Such images and hatred defined America for one week in August.

Donald Trump's inability to condemn Nazis in the US only amplified the divisions further.

The line "o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave" appears in every stanza of the full rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. And while many were 'brave' enough to stand against the alt-right march, it didn't feel very free.

Two weeks after the events of Charlottesville, a new crisis emerged in the form of Hurricane Harvey.

This was a natural disaster rather than man-made. Harvey, which later was downgraded to a tropical storm, was one of the worst hurricanes to hit the US this century causing mass flooding, power outages and, so far, the deaths of at least 35 people.

The catastrophic storm has caused billions of dollars' worth of damage, changed communities for life and left scars in families that may never heal.

Parts of the US are all too used to hurricanes, the states that encircle the Gulf of Mexico - Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas have faced some of the deadliest storms in history.

But ever since Harvey made landfall on Friday 25 August, dozens of stories have emerged of last-minute rescues and communities providing shelter and aid. This spirit, in the "home of the brave" is what defines America.

The heroes of Houston showed the Charlottesville racists what America is really about.

Images of news reporters running to trucks stuck in flash floods, people riding boats through the streets to help people trapped in their homes and strangers forming human chains to save drivers being washed away in their cars.

These images has shown America in its best light once again - and epitomised for many what the US is all about.

The US has been through a rough 2017 with problems at the top of the Trump administration. Domestic policies such as healthcare have sown division, tensions have been raised over a possible conflict with North Korea and ongoing Russian investigations have left a cloud.

But away from the country's capital, Washington DC, the real America, the land of the free and the brave is showing racists what the country stands for.

Harvey rescue drones
US regulator bans civilian drones to aid rescue operations in Harvey affected areas U.S. Army National Guard/Capt. Martha Nigrelle/Handout via REUTERS