That excitement you feel when you get the call that informs you that you have won your first scholarship is indescribable. The Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay Competition was one of the first scholarships I applied for and it certainly paid off. First, I won at the local level, then I came in 1st for the district, and before I knew it I was on my way to Springfield, Illinois for the annual Voice of Democracy banquet where they would announce the state winner.
My experience was one that I will never forget. I got to meet 18 amazing people, explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, tour the Illinois Capitol Building, and visit Lincoln’s Tomb and the war memorials in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Even though I didn’t win 1st place at the state level, I can definitely say that the girl who did totally deserved it.
Here is my winning essay; maybe it can offer you some pointers on writing your next scholarship essay:
The Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and the Reserves. All are the guardians of the United States of America and all should be proud of their identity and their duty.
American pride is part of what makes us who we are. Every 4th of July I think of waving little American flags and the parades with the marching bands and the floats, but that’s just one day a year. Maybe we need to appreciate our countries struggles more often. Maybe we need to take a little more time to realize what’s happening out there. Maybe we need to have more pride in our nation’s soldiers and what they go through.
A soldier returning home thinks of seeing her parents again and they long to be reunited with her. She chose to fight for those who need her help and to offer them shelter in their time of need. They are proud of her capacity to make sacrifices to defend others even if it means putting her own life in danger. These soldiers are all around us as part of our everyday lives. They are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. They give their all to protect us, their families, their homes, and their country. They have a type of courage that knows no limit. There is pride in that.
A soldier overseas thinks of his little girl who stays up thinking about him every night. She sees him as a hero, a thought that brings a smile to his face. He is proud of that title and reinforces it every day as he and his comrades protect the innocent as well as each other. These soldiers are beacons of light when everything else seems dark. They are symbols of protection and defense, safety and security, relief and comfort. They put their lives on the line to provide a brighter future, a safer situation, and a greater hope. They sacrifice themselves everyday to give others a better tomorrow. There is pride in that.
Is there not pride in saving lives? To physically fight for everything that the United States represents? What would we be without the freedom and democracy that we have? Our country’s ideals can sometimes take the form of the United States soldier who reaches out a hand to help others and to spread the beam of our country’s values even further. And even though that soldier may lose their life in the line of duty, they leave behind a legacy. A legacy that encompasses duty, honor, and valor. A legacy that is something to be proud of. And even though that soldier’s family and friends will cry as they mourn another lost American, those tears will not just be of sorrow, they will also be tears of gratification in knowing that their loved one gave their life trying to pass on that American dream to others. There is pride in that.
As American citizens at home we should support and be proud of our nation’s troops. Next time you see an American flag, I want you to stop for a moment, even if it’s just for a few brief seconds, and take the time to remember those we have lost and those that are fighting, no matter how close or far from home, for their lives and the lives of others. We take our everyday safety for granted while there are American citizens just like us fighting on the front lines and shedding their blood so that we can be safe at home and others can have better lives. They have an incredible will to survive, to endure against all odds, but sometimes they have to surrender their lives to protect the well being of others. Such is the price of freedom, it isn’t free. Some may have to pay for it with their lives and even though nobody wants to die that is a cost that every soldier knows and accepts. There is pride in that.
There is pride in serving in the United States military. And in serving our nation’s military, those soldiers are also serving us. Yesterday they did, today they are, and tomorrow they will as well. There is pride in that and there always will be.
I’m planning on participating in the 2012-1013 Voice of Democracy Program. Who knows, maybe I’ll even see you there! Here’s the link if you are interested: Voice of Democracy. I would also recommend reading the story off of this link as well: VFW pilgrimage features ‘pride’ essay finalists.