By Jennifer Allison
M. Grundler once said, "It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you."
Many times we take our liberty and freedom for granted, never stopping to appreciate everything our veterans have done for us. Sure we have a big Veterans Day assembly where the whole school meets in the gym with the veterans of our community. The choir will sing and the band will play. The best essays among the student body will be read. Then all the veterans present will receive certificates of appreciation, but is that really enough?
These men and women standing before us have put their lives on the line to protect us and fight for our freedom. Our soldiers made one of the greatest sacrifices of all by leaving behind family and friends to serve their country. They go out every day knowing it could be their last while we stay safe and snug at home. We take for granted all of the advantages here in America, not thinking about what it took to obtain that freedom.
Our soldiers truly are brave heroes because they gave up everything to serve their country. Our veterans deserve more than a handshake and thank you one day out of the year. If it were not for their valor and courage, America would not be "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
We should express our gratefulness to our veterans as often as possible. Let us express how thankful we truly are for their service and sacrifice. We should never take for granted the freedom that we have living in America because "freedom is never free."
Soldiers have died in the field of battle fighting so we can sleep peacefully at night. No one should ever take a sacrifice so courageous, so brave and so generous like that for granted.
"[Let us] express our gratitude [and] never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them," (John Kennedy).
By Gage Holloway
On a crisp April night in 1775, an act of great patriotism came about that would forever be ingrained as a part of America's rich and vivid history.
Paul Revere's ride through Massachusetts would shortly become an act of courage that would be told for many generations to come. However, this would not become one of a few acts of patriotism in our great nation.
As we gaze into our past and into today's times, we encounter countless acts of courage and generosity shown to our country. Many men and women have fallen for our nation; today, however, we look not mournfully into the past. We desire to honor those great patriots who have returned safe and well to our blessed shores.
A patriot is defined as "one who loves his country and zealously supports its interests." When experiencing men and women who have served their nation in the armed forces, one can see that these words are no match for the true definition of a patriot.
These individuals have taken on a task of great importance. They have forged the way for our continuing freedom. Great numbers of these men and women have taken on scars of war that will not soon be forgotten. However, they are still proud to tell their stories and encourage allegiance to our highflying flag.
Today, just as in the past, many young Americans have signed to protect and serve our beautiful nation. These individuals will live on to be the patriots of our future. They have taken on the duty of protecting all the liberties and freedoms so many of us take for granted. This task will not come easily to them. But we will not doubt them.
With due time and strength, they will leap forward to propel our nation into many more decades lacking in persecution and abundant in freedom. We can only hope that soon we will be telling our future generation not only of Paul Revere's ride but also of many more patriots who have done so much for their marvelous nation.
By Marissa Tucker
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty."
These words, spoken by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, are as true today as they were 50 years ago. Over the course of the last half-century, America has indeed paid the ultimate cost for the preservation of liberty, not in money, but in American lives. Our country has only survived because generations of Americans have continued to put their dreams, careers, plans and fears aside to assure the endurance of the United States of America.
In over 200 years of American history, hundreds of my ancestors have given their lives to secure my future. From the streets of Boston to the hills of Virginia, and the fields of Normandy to the islands of Japan, the mud pits of Vietnam and Korea, to the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, my ancestors have fought for the country they loved.
Bowens, Lowes, Sparlins, and Tuckers have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure America's future. They have given up homes, families and lives to protect us, and have been courageous and honorable in the face of death. As a descendant of these people, I have much to live up to.
However, my family has not been the only one to make such sacrifices. Millions of American families have given their loved ones to serve our country. Fathers, mothers, siblings, spouses, cousins and fiancÚs have been separated from their families and held tightly by the bonds of war.
Americans have protested, rebelled, solved their differences and come together in the time of war to defend their homes. Proud patriots have stood up for their beliefs, made pilgrimages to Washington, spoken to Congress, become senators and representatives and passed laws in order to keep America united. These men and women have made sure that the country's brave Americans fought for remained whole and beautiful until the day those tired but proud citizens returned. These men and women were Americans.
Throughout history, Americans have fought for what they thought was right. Patrick Henry stood up for liberty, Chief Sitting Bull for the preservation of his land and his people, Susan B. Anthony for women's' rights, and Martin Luther King, Jr., for equality despite race.
More numerous than these heroes, though, was the American veteran. Millions of proud Americans banded together during times of war and fought to preserve homes, families and ways of life. Our veterans are the ultimate American hero.
Today we focus on our veterans. These men and women encompass the strongest ideals of America. They have given of themselves to secure the blessings of liberty, and upon their return to their country, have built lives for themselves and their families that will survive well into the future.
As Americans, we look up to you, veterans, and realize that we have much to live up to. You inspire us to do all that we can for our country and for each other, show us that we should never take freedom for granted, and teach us to cherish each liberty that is ours.
We put aside this day in November to honor and thank you for your sacrifice. Your contribution to America could never be expressed in a meager essay, but know that my gratitude and the gratitude of every person here comes from our hearts. Every one of you has inspired me to live up to being an American.
Thank you for our country and our freedom. Thank you, veterans, and God bless America.