Students write essays on ‘What Makes America Great’ |

Students write essays on ‘What Makes America Great’

Winners of this year's VFW Patriot's Pen essay contest were honored by local veterans. From left, are: Jim Stanko adjutant VFW Post 4264; Lyla Baker, first place; Caroline Fitzgerald, third place; Finn Chapman, second place; and Christina Kelley, senior vice commander for VFW Post 4264. All students are in the sixth grade at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs Middle School sixth grade students recently competed in the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Patriot’s Pen essay contest. 

Conducted nationwide, this VFW-sponsored youth essay competition gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “What Makes America Great.”

Essay winners were: Lyla Baker, first place; Finn Chapman, second place; and Carline Fitzgerald, third place. The contest is sponsored locally by VFW Post 4264.

The winning essay is printed below.

“What Makes America Great”
By Lyla Baker

The United States of America is a great country. It is a country founded upon freedom and justice, based upon liberty. It is a land of connectedness and unity.  These ignite the American spirit. These ignite American greatness.

Freedom is a gift that is honored from the heart of the independent soul. Freedom is greatness. In the beginning, when we declared our liberty, we did so with pride for our newly formed nation. We inspired others to be free.

Some people around the world are not free; they do not have freedom of speech or freedom of the press. They cannot make their own decisions. They are completely cut off from the outside world. We have rights that allow us to be independent and worldly educated, and that simple yet remarkable ability to be free is empowering.

When freedom and liberty are achieved, the result is a change in one’s perspective on the world and themselves. The Statue of Liberty sparked the sense of freedom within those who arrived in our country to start life anew, it fired a change in their perspective. It was a sign for all to see … it declared a simple idea: “We are free.”

When weary travelers saw this symbol of liberty and freedom, they were filled with pride. Pride for their nation. Pride for their country. Pride for their great America.

Interwoven within each American, whether they are strangers, family or friends, is the concept of connectedness, which promotes greatness. We are all connected through our diverse beliefs and opinions, shaped by the past of our country, influenced by the present and will guide the future’s generations. We help others to do the same; we are connected with many other countries.

Some of them are divided — split apart by politics, religion and greed, therefore they cannot unite. If we can find common ground, we can grow together, we can learn together, and we can unify as one nation.

Connectedness and freedom make America great. Founded upon justice and unity, we stand together, grow together and learn together. That is the American spirit, and it leads the way to American greatness.          

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