The Chewelah VFW Post 54 has announced the local winners of the annual VFW Department of Washington State Youth Essay Program. See below to read the winning essays from each age group.
My Responsibility to America
By Emma Selle, 10th Grade, Paideia High School, Valley
My responsibility to the United States of America is to be kind. I believe kindness is an imperative virtue that is sorely lacking today. I also think it was an integral part of why this country was founded, even if it was never explicitly stated. My responsibility is to be kind, to anyone and everyone, especially my fellow citizens of the United States.
Our country was created to escape tyranny, persecution, and injustice. The founders say, in the Preamble to the Consitution of the United States, that, “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity, [they] do ordain and establish this Constitution.” These words set out a country where everyone is free to worship, speak, and defend themselves, some of the most basic human rights. In essence, our country was built on the concepts of acceptance. Acceptance is one of the largest factors in being a kind human being; to show compassion to another person, you must first accept them for who they are.
Lately, it seems the ideal of acceptance – or, as I see it, kindness – that makes up the groundwork of our nation has been swept to the side. In its place is a mentality of entitlement. We, and only we, are the ones entitled to our hard-earned freedom. The kindness is forgotten as we boisterously declare our superiority and freedom. Kindness is so closely tied to freedom. If we pride ourselves and our nation on our freedom, we do, by definition, also pride ourselves on kindness and acceptance. Freedom is defined (by Google) as “the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” Kindness is defined (by Google) as “the quality of being friendly, generous, or considerate.” The commonality between those two definitions is generosity and consideration. To be free, there is nothing hindering or restraining your thoughts or actions – for there to be nothing hindering you, others must be generous and considerate enough to allow you to express those thoughts and actions. Kindness is necessary to freedom.
It also appears that we have forgotten that our nation was originally made up of the misfits, persecuted, and misunderstood. Now we shut out those very same people, ignoring the fact that they represent our own roots. This is wrong on so many levels. A popular argument, which, especially now that we’re in election season, is very frequently brought up, is that we don’t know who it is we’re letting into our country. This is presented in a negative light, alluding to criminal intent in immigrants. I would argue that not knowing who immigrants are isn’t necessarily negative – not knowing whether or not an immigrants has criminal intent is very different from that immigrant actually having criminal intent. The motivation behind moving to America hasn’t changed in the years since the US has been established – immigrants want a chance at a better life. Obviously there will always be a risk that we will bring in immigrants with unsavory intentions – but there are US-born citizens with unsavory intentions, too. Crime is everywhere, why shut out the innocent for fear of the guilty? That’s unjust, and untrue to the history of our country.
Openness of any kind has been and will always be scary. As well as opening up to greatness and development, openness creates vulnerability. It is always easier to be defensive than accepting. Acceptance, however, not defense, should be what the US adopts – vulnerability is frightening and sometimes uncomfortable, but our country can’t become stronger if we shut ourselves to new things either.
So, it is my personal responsibility to be kind. I believe that we can bring the kindness – acceptance – back into the US, even if it’s only one person at a time. If I am kind to everyone, if I accept them as they are, I will be doing my part to my country. I will be living up to the ideals of the nation, as laid out in the groundwork, and I will make others feel more accepted, and I will be futhering myself as a person.
Kindness is my responsibility to America, as well as everyone else’s responsibility to America. When we get down to it, America should be a nation of kind, well-rounded individuals, upholding the ideals of men and women who created our nation. By being kind, I will be doing my part for my country, its citizens, and myself.
Why are men and women in the military special?
By Kate Rainey, 5th grade, Springdale
Three reasons veterans are important to me are: they risk their lives, go through hard times and keep us free. I will be sharing my respect and love for the military today, and forever. I believe that the soldiers that fight for this country are the only true heroes.
First, they serve for our country to keep us free. They’re risking their lives for people they don’t even know. Those soldiers who have wives and husbands and children, they’re risking never seeing them again, dying in battle. That’s why I respect veterans so much, men or women, because they’re living through stuff that us kids could never imagine.
Second, soldiers every day, everywhere are dealing with diseases, lice, vermin and ticks. They’re dealing with hot and cold, some of them freezing while others are burning. They’re nonstop moving whether it be running, walking, hiking, climbing, diving out of a plane, or doing anything else they’re tired or thirsty or hungry. I respect that so much in a soldier.
My last reason is that they keep us free. Without soldiers the military wouldn’t exist and without the military our freedom wouldn’t exist. We’d be in war all the time and we’d be living in fear, all of us. Men, women, children, animals, we’d be in fear for our lives, for our future. The military makes sure that nightmares never come true.
Those are three reasons that the military is life for me.
The America I Believe in
By Eden Aleeli Clemmer, 8th grade, Valley
I believe in an America that cares about its citizens no matter who you are. Regardless of skin color, religion, or nationality, my country will welcome you. My views on America have changed as I have grown, and will continue to change as I get older. Although this is true, I know that I will always believe that the U.S. is an amazing place to live.
As a child, I saw America as a country with absolutely no problems. This country was an almost sort of paradise, an escape from the hectic and crazy outside world. Everyone wanted to come to this utopian society, and those who weren’t already here were begging to be let in.
Now I realize that, although America is a great country, we have our problems. With these problems, we also don’t always have the best solutions. It is most certainly not a perfect place. I also realize that many people don’t have the opportunity to come to America. No matter how hard they try, some people aren’t fortunate enough to come to America.
I also believe that America is a place of freedom. We probably all know, freedom is not free. There were people who had to write for our freedom, who risked their lives to make America the great country we have today. Not everyone can make it home alive, yet they still are willing to make that sacrifice. I used to see veterans and soldiers and think how brave and fearless they must be. How hard it must be to risk losing your life in order to fight for others. I still believe that you have to be extremely brave, but now I also see how hard it is for their families. They are husbands, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, and mothers. We are very lucky to be able to have rights, for there are many places in the world where the people are not free.
The America I believe in is a place of freedom. It is a place where people will accept you for who you are. A place where you have the opportunities to follow your dreams, and be able to voice your opinions as you please. We may have some problems in this country, but if we continue to work hard to solve these problems, we will be an even better country than ever.