This whole week I've been so anxious to hear about the D.C. essays that were due last Wednesday, because I heard that we would hear about them either Thursday or Friday. Well, we heard about them today...and I didn't win. Two of my friends and two people I didn't know won. Congrats guys, it's a huge honor that is once in a lifetime. I just hope that all of the winners realize how amazing it is for them to walk in the ceremony of placing the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I think my two friends do, but, for the fact I don't know the other two students, I cannot speak for the others.
I worked really hard on my essay. I worked on it for fourteen days (the maximum time), whereas people like my brother spent a day and a half on it. I had my writing teacher from last year read it, my family, my writing mentor, and myself (over and over and over again). I got so much feedback, edited, picked it to shreds, dissected it, added to it--and now it is almost as if it was for nothing. But not totally. I know that I still did my best, and that I had to try, and how could I even have the possibility of winning if I didn't even enter a paper?
But as I think back on my essay, I realize that I still ask myself those infamous 'What if...' questions. I think I might know what made my paper lose. Or at least in my mind made it lose. In my last paragraph I wrote about how much I appreciate all that our soldiers do and all they go through for us. One of my sentences was "My heart wrenches just thinking about the hell some have been through, but the pride, dignity, honor, and respect they took it all in." I think the word 'hell', even used in the correct content, might have been a mistake. I wish I could know if that lowered my chances. But my history teacher uses it in class sometimes, so why shouldn't I be allowed to use it in my essay? If only I could know...
Well, my Lord, am I whinny enough today for your liking? I'm sorry dear readers, I just put so much into this essay. Perhaps, I know a way to post it below. Yes, indeed I do.
I believe honoring the soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who are willing to do so is such an important thing. I want to honor these people for so many personal reasons.
First, my family consists of many military personnel. Six of my cousins have either served in Iraq, the Army, the Air Force, or the Marines; both of my grandpas were in the Army; one of my great grandfathers was in the Air Force; four of my great uncles were in the service, two of which died in action, one of whose remains were never found from the Korean War. The reason this makes me want to honor the soldiers is because I know how strong and brave these men and women are. They do the unthinkable, putting themselves in the line of fire for their country. I know how proud their families are of their service but how hard it is for them to send them off to defend our country, for they’re in danger every second. My family of such soldiers compels me to honor these valiant men and women.
Secondly, I am proud to call this country home. Seeing this nation under God overcome so much has given me a sense of pride in my country and those who defend her. September 11th, 2001 was one of the hardest days the U.S. will see in my lifetime. I still have no idea how our country ever moved past that--but overcome it we did. Going to war was another difficult thing to face, but brave men and women from all over joined the military anyway, determined to protect this land in a time of crisis and need. With recently electing the first African-American President of the United States, I know our country will never meet an obstacle we cannot overcome, for we have come so far as a country. The United States of America and those who defend her give me pride to call the ‘land of the free’ home.
Thirdly, so many sacrifices of these men and women go unnoticed. Many people don’t realize a soldier’s sacrifice so that our everyday lives are the way they are--free. While we go about our lives each day, whether it be to school, work, or play, our brave soldiers are off somewhere fighting--dying--for our freedom to preserve our way of life. Our freedom to go out with our friends…somebody died for that. Think about those who lost a dear loved one, fighting for us. The baby girl whose daddy was deployed to war one week after she was born, all he would miss of her life--her first steps, her first words, her first smile. What if her daddy never came back? She would never know her dad, but she would know that he died doing something important. He fell defending our country, and because of him, and the countless others like him, we are free and are able to live the lives we do. Our soldiers give up so much; their family time, their personal lives, their love for life--everything. Even their own lives. They’re willing to give all of this up for millions of people they don’t even know, because they love their country. No, freedom most definitely is not free! Everybody should realize what they have, because our American way of life doesn’t come without expense and it’s guaranteed to no one. These men and women deserve our respect. Their sacrifices should not go unrecognized.
Fourthly, laying the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier would give me great honor. Walking beside three other classmates and a man or woman who is dutifully keeping guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier would fill my heart with pride, giving me the chance to somewhat repay this man or woman who died defending our country. Their remains bear no name, but they are well respected, honored, and well guarded by soldiers who are continuously there--around the clock, everyday, rain or shine, frigid temperatures or extreme heat, no matter what. To think that I could repay this Unknown Soldier with this opportunity to say “Thanks”…it is beyond my wildest dream. It would give me great, unexplainable honor to be part of this important ceremony, and it would make me feel like I am doing something for my country.
Finally, I really appreciate all that these men and women of great courage do for me, and my country as well. As a thirteen-year-old Ohioan student, I don’t often feel I am making a difference to anyone, let alone my country. This opportunity to me is a chance to make that difference. Many people would consider it a small dissimilarity to walk in this ceremony, but to me it is a huge thing. It would give me a sense of responsibility, knowing how important this ceremony is. I will never know exactly what those men and women go through, but I want to repay them and let them know that they’re never far from my mind and prayers and never will they be forgotten. The definition of hero is a person admired for great deeds or fine quality; one who shows great courage. A hero to me is so much more. It is a person who everyday has no clue what there life will be like one minute to the next. Someone who will risk their life to save just one person. A hero is indefinable because no two are alike. My heart wrenches just thinking about the hell some have been through, but the pride, dignity, honor, and respect they took it all in. These men and women are true heroes to me and I wish for nothing more than to show my deep gratitude to these gallant men and women.
In conclusion, honoring the soldiers who freely and willingly give up everything is very personal to me. My family, my pride for my country, the sacrifices given, giving back, and my appreciation allows me to honor the dauntless men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
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