Student voices her opinion on democracy

Thursday, December 29, 2005

How I Demonstrate My Freedom

By Heather Kessler - Junior at Storm Lake High School

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you - but ask what you can do for your country."

This quote was heard all over the world on Jan. 20, 1961 by John Fitzgerald Kennedy at his inaugural address in Washington, D.C. These words inspired the hearts of many to the point where people became more patriotic and still are to this day. My freedom didn't come free. It didn't come easily and neither did anyone else's here today. It took courage, bravery and heart for all the soldiers to achieve our freedom and these qualities are still used today in the war with Iraq. These qualities have also inspired me to demonstrate my freedom by getting a good education, stating my opinions without harming others and learning from others' experiences and lives to become a better, more inspirational citizen.

Demonstrating my freedom by achieving a good education is very important. Everyone has a choice on whether or not to get a good education. Everyone has a choice on whether or not to drop out of school, get a GED, get a high school diploma, get a college degree and the list goes on and on. What we do with these choices is even more important. What type of education we get and how much we get can shape our futures and kinds of lives we live. Education is one of the major foundations of the U.S. In other countries people aren't able to get an education because of their country's economic structure, the amount of money the family has, or kids having to work at home rather than going to school. These countries don't have education as one of their major foundations and this is just one more reason why the U.S. is the greatest, most prosperous nation in the world. With an education we learn about the world and apply it while we're here. Without learning it, how are we suppose to be able to succeed in today's fast-paced world?

According to the first amendment of the Constitution, we have the freedom of speech. We have the freedom to state our opinions without hurting others in the process. Stating our opinions is a major factor in today's society. If something needs to be changed we can say our thoughts and try to get it changed rather than just sitting around and letting it happen or having a dictator run our lives. In JFK's speech, the first thing he says is, "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." What most people don't know is that he continued to say..., "ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." The freedom he is referring to is the freedom of choice. We choose to help change things if they aren't right or we may choose to sit around and let it happen. Either way we all have a choice to either make a good decision or a bad one. These freedoms are only found in America.

Sometimes I think that people take living in America for granted. We don't think about people from other countries because they don't affect our lives. Some people from other countries would give up anything to live in America, yet we who do live in America don't say the pledge of allegiance, don't really honor Veteran's Day and mess around during the national anthem. If you go to some type of sporting event you know that they sing the national anthem before the game, but how many times have you seen people, whether it be a high school game or pro, messing around during the national anthem? It seems like people are interested in who sings it rather than what it actually means.

We live in a society today where teenagers learn about history through school and episodes of Biography on A&E. We take it for granted that the veterans fought for their lives for our country. We have to learn from poor grandparents that life is tough. If there was a WWIII tomorrow, I don't think we would know what to do because we wouldn't know enough about the past and we'd make the same mistakes we made before. Because of things like 9/11 and Katrina, you will never go to an airport without going through security and some people won't even travel to the coast because of all the hurricanes. This is why I demonstrate my freedom by learning from others' experiences and respecting them.

Demonstrating my freedom is very important to me because I feel that if I didn't then what good am I doing living here in America. Our country earned its freedom and if we just want to settle for a broken down nation then where would we be? If our grandparents settled for a broken down nation and didn't demonstrate their freedom by fighting in wars and teaching us about what life is really like, where would we be today?

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