Americanism Essay Contest Winners
"What the Pledge of Allegiance Means to Me" - Division I Winner
This year's winning essay from Division I (5th/6th graders) is from Beatriz Gabriel of Worthington Lodge #2287.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. What does it really mean?
"I pledge allegiance", really stands for I promise to be true. "To the flag", stands for the symbol of our country. "Of the United States of America", stands for a country where people choose others to make laws for them. "For which it stands" stands for the flag that means our country. "Under God" the people believe in a supreme being. "Indivisible" stands for our country that cannot be split into parts. "With liberty and justice" means with freedom and fairness. "For all" stands for each person in the country.
To me the pledge of allegiance stands for "I pledge to be true to the symbol of our country, and for each state that has joined our country, where people choose to make laws for them, and for the flag that means our country, for the people that believe in a supreme being, and for our country that cannot be split with freedom and fairness for each person in the country."
The Pledge of allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. It was published in the juvenile magazine, "The Youths Campaign." That is what the Pledge of Allegiance means to me.
This year's winning essay from Division II (7th/8th graders) is from Hailey Turner-Hubbard of Brainerd Lodge #615.
When I put my hand on my heart, look up at the flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I'm reminded of the respect and love I have towards my country. I think of the soldiers that have sacrificed everything, including their lives, so that citizens of America are able to live freely. There are two things in the Pledge of Allegiance that really stand out to me.
The Pledge states that we are "one nation, under God." I believe this means that we have the right to believe in whomever and whatever we please. Without soldiers fighting for us, there is a chance I wouldn't have that liberty. This also reminds me that our nation was founded on religion. I believe this goes towards many religions, not just Christianity. It tells me that our country comes from many different religious backgrounds, but we're still one united nation.
I think the pledge is also a promise. It's my promise that I'll be loyal to my country and the values it was founded on. I'm also promising to honor my country and the soldiers that have fought for it. To show my loyalty I can participate in governmental things such as voting. I'm too young for that, so for now I can study our nations history. Our nation wouldn't be what it is today if we didn't keep this promise.
By saying the Pledge of Allegiance, I'm reminded of my love and respect towards my home. The United States of America.
"What Veterans Day Means to Me" - Division I winner
This year's winning essay for Division I (5th/6th) is from Kristen T. of Mankato Lodge #225.
When I think of Veterans Day, I think of all the servicemen and women that risked their lives so that us Americans could have freedom. It takes a true serviceman to do something that amazing! I have many veterans in my family tree, my grandpas, my father, was named Marine of the year, then I have two brothers, one currently in the Marines, and one that just finished his four years. I am so proud of my family, and for all the Veterans out there that have made this world a wonderful and safe place to live.
Freedom has a price, and everyone deserves to pay it, but because of these servicemen and women, they paid it for us. Veterans day is a day to honor and remember these Veterans for the great sacrifices that they have made for us. Military families sometimes miss Holidays and special occasions together.
It doesn't take a big man or woman to do big things, because big or small, you can always do big things. I always keep all veterans that have served, or still serving right now in my prayers. Being a veteran is a big responsibility, and they should be good role models for everyone. It is my hope that kids in the world look up to veterans and give them the respect they deserve. It is also my hope that everyone remembers Veterans day and cherishes the thought of our brave heroes.
"What Veterans Day Means to Me" - Division II winner
This year's winning essay for Division II (7th/8th grade) is from Cayanne K. of Red Wing Lodge #845.
Veterans Day...for some it might just simply mean getting off school or work, sleeping in, maybe a nice barbecue with friends and family, and at one point that’s all it. ever meant.
I've only thought about what others wanted me to think about Veterans Day. I have learned from a young age that this federal holiday is meant to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, but before writing this essay I never really put much thought into how I felt about such an important day. To be honest, I don't think to pray for all of the U.S. military veterans every single day. I’m not thankful enough for these courageous people. So the question, What does Veterans day mean to me? ... there is no right or wrong answer, but for me Veterans Day is all about apologizing for not thanking those who deserve it most and making it up by dedicating November 11 each year to men and women who have put our lives in front of theirs not even knowing who we are. I am proud to say that lately I have been putting all veterans, not just my relatives and close friends, in my thoughts and prayers more often. All of these Americans have made such a difference in all of our lives. I now know I will look at Veterans Day with more respect, and I'm sorry it wasn't so important to me!
Winning Essays: 2013 Americanism Essay Contest
"What the National Anthem Means to Me" - Division I winner
This year's winning essay for Division I (5th/6th) is from Riley B. of Bemidji Lodge #1052.
The National Anthem is played at almost every sports event, you might hear it on Independence Day, and it is part of every day life for most patriotic Americans. The song is so common yet rarely will people take the time to consider what it means. To me the National Anthem symbolizes bravery. I recognize bravery because the song was made in the chaos of a battle. The closing verse strongly recognizes my feelings for this song. But I do not just recognize the soldiers in Fort McHenry, or even the soldiers fighting in the war of 1812. I also recognize all the brave men and women that have fought to keep our country safe for over 236 years. Each war posed new challenges and threats that took bravery to overcome. The National Anthem makes me feel grateful for being lucky enough to live in such a great country with people that are willing to give their lives just so you and I can live a good life. Because of these reasons I will feel proud the next time I hear the Star Spangled Banner played at a sporting event or any other event. I will also remember how brave our country has been to get where we are today, and how lucky I am to live in it. I hope you will too.
"What the National Anthem Means to Me" - Division II winner
This year's winning essay for Division II (7th/8th grade) is from Dax M. of Bemidji Lodge #1052.
The National Anthem is one of the most important parts of America's history. It was written by Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and a poet. He wrote it while witnessing Fort McHenry being attacked. This poem was written in 1814 during the war of 1812. The poem was later turned into a song with the tune of a popular song in America, "The Anacreontic Song". In 1916, Woodrow Wilson, the president, made the Star Spangled Banner the national anthem, as many people call it today in America. What does the National Anthem mean to me? It shows our freedom. It shows what our country went through to achieve freedom. It shows that all the lives that were taken for our country. It shows that even when there were bodies lying around the soldiers and they were scared and thought they would never see their families again, they still fought, they were courageous. They had hope in the midst of darkness. Whenever you hear the National Anthem, you shouldn't just sing it like it's a chore, you should think of the words you are singing, and think about what your ancestors went through so their children and grandchildren would be safe and live happy, prosperous lives. A quote from Nathan Hale before he was killed said, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." That is how all of us should think about our country, we should be willing to give our lives for God, and the United States of America.
Winning Essays: 2012 Americanism Essay Contest
"Why I Am Proud To Pledge Allegiance To Our Flag" - Division I winner
This year's winning essay for Division I (5th/6th) is from sixth grader Laura W. of Brainerd Lodge #615.
Every morning, we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Most of us don't really pay attention to what those 31 words we know by heart mean, but they mean more than most most other words we use during the school day. Those 31 words signify what it means to be an American, and I'm proud to recite it every morning.
First of all, the Pledge of Allegiance unites all Americans together. Every one from Alaska to Florida, from Texas to Minnesota, is held together by the one thing we recite every morning. The Pledge of Allegiance holds Americans together.
Secondly, the Pledge of Allegiance reminds all of us about the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, and those who have fought in wars before to ensure our nation's freedom. In America we're allowed the freedom to pursue "life, liberty and happiness", unlike in some countries of the world. The troops fighting for us ensure we will keep that freedom.
And lastly, I'm proud to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it's reminding people of the freedom that everyone gets no matter their race, religion, gender, creed or anything else. The Pledge of Allegiance keeps the diversity in America alive.
In conclusion, I'm proud to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it holds all Americans together, it reminds us about the troops who have fought for our country, and it reminds of of our freedom and diversity in America.
"Why I Am Proud To Pledge Allegiance To Our Flag" - Division II winner
This year's winning essay for Division II (7th/8th grade) is from eighth grader Brock D. of Thief River Falls Lodge #1308.
Our Flag is a national symbol that represents not only our pride as Americans, but also our freedom and liberty earned by our own sweat, toil, and blood.
The words of the pledge are an outline of our commitment to the flag; telling us why it represents us, and we represent it. While it compels us to commit to our nation, it also tells us we are unified with our countrymen in common rights. This flag shows our unity in every city and town. It surrounds memorials and national monuments. It constantly receives standing ovations from crowds attending sports games, military events, parades, and every day events such as boy scouts, city council meetings, and even the Elks Flag Day Ceremony. No matter the event, it is honored greatly because of its promise that we are "one Nation, under God". Our flag prompts integrity and determination dating back to the Revolutionary War where it was used to motivate our soldiers to become one sovereign and independent nation. Ever since America's independence, it has been a solemn reminder of our common bond, too, whether covering a casket of a lost soldier or waving majestically over our Capitol. It reminds us of our history in every American classroom. It units our past, present and future.
United we stand.
Our flag is the basis of our country's unity. That is why I am proud to pledge allegiance to our flag.
Brandi Anderson is an 8th grade student at Warner Christian Academy in South Daytona Beach, Florida, and was the winner of the AMVETS Post 911’s “What Freedom Means to Me” Essay Contest. Brandi and her family were guests of Freedom Alliance at the Hannity Freedom Concert in Orlando, Florida, in August 2010.
Brandi’s father, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Anderson, was killed by enemy fire while serving in Iraq in 2004. Her father was the inspiration behind the essay, and with Brandi’s permission, we would like to share it with you below.
WHAT IT MEANS TO ME
by Brandi Anderson
Free-dom (free-dem) n. 1. The state or quality of being free; a) exemption or liberation from the control of some other person or arbitrary power; liberty; independence b) being able to act, move, use etc. without hindrance or restraint, confinement or repression.
Freedom. What a beautiful word. A gift endowed upon us. Our birthright as an American citizen. Freedom has a very special meaning to me. I know what the price of freedom is. It does not come without a very high cost. Every man, woman, and child who lies their head down each night in peace, does so because some other American, at some time, layed down their life for them. I know this because I lost my dad in Iraq on May 2nd, 2004. He was a Navy Seabee sent there to help rebuild a country. He was killed, along with six of his fellow comrades when their camp was mortared. I will never forget the day that the Naval Chief and Chaplain showed up at my front door. I was only seven at the time but the words about to be uttered would change my life forever. The chief saluted my mom and myself, “The United States of America regrets to inform you…” My mom started to cry. I knew something very bad had happened. I was right.
So much tyranny has been fought against through the years. From our WWI warriors to the young soldiers of WWII, sent overseas to save us from an inconceivable evil. They are truly ‘The Greatest Generation.’ Sadly we watch as so many of them depart us each day. Years later the Vietnam generation heeded their nation’s command. On September 11th, 2001 our beloved nation was attacked. Today we continue to fight for our most sacred possession. The right to live as a free people.
With freedom comes responsibility. Envied by many, challenged by some. We must never become complacent. We have a duty to preserve our way of life. It is how we repay our debt to our fathers and forefathers. It is ironic how people perceive freedom. So many take this precious gift for granted. Yet there are many others who are deeply grateful.
In the last six years I have had the opportunity to meet some really special people. Some have been celebrities or military figures. But a lot have been regular folk who just ‘get it.’ I’ve met a lot of other kids like myself and their families. It grieves me when I go to events such as TAPS, Arlington, dedications and memorials. There are a lot of people who have lost someone who can never be replaced. Because of my dad’s death, I have traveled to places and met people, I very well may never have. But I would trade all of that in a moment to get my dad back. Because none of that can fill the gap left in my heart when he died. My dad and I had many great memories that never will be forgotten. Although I get really sad sometimes, I am so thankful to have known my dad. Some children were born afterward and never got that chance. So when I see the flag waving or hear the Star-Spangled Banner or pledge my allegiance to the flag, I feel a real sense of pride. I truly hope our nation never forgets because I know I never will – FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!