Thoughts on Veterans and Freedom
Though the official Veterans Day holiday is behind us – it was Sunday, Nov. 11 – we feel that any day is an appropriate to honor the brave men and women who have served our country and protected our freedoms. We thank Cathy Post of the American Legion Auxiliary for allowing us to publish these following essays. These were written by former Tyler Consolidated students Isabella Camerlin and Jace Glover, for the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #48 scholarship essay contest held earlier this year.
FREEDOM: The Meaning Behind the Flag
By Isabella Camerlin
The national anthem rings out loud and strong over the standing crowd at my town’s football game. The wind whips the flag through the air as it is raised before a stadium of patriotic gazes. I’m young, too young to know quite what the flag stands for. I see an older man struggling to remain standing as he leans against a fence, out of breath from being out of the wheelchair next to him. The main remains standing, eyes locked on the rippling flag and his left hand shaking on the fence post. Even at my young age, I can tell that this man wants more than anything to stand as this flag is raised. I know that this flag must be important.
My hand is on my heart like my mother taught me, but I have only a vague idea of what I’m saluting. The man places a hat back on his head and takes his seat in the wheelchair. He is out of breath and clearly shaken from the effort of standing. I turn to my mother and ask why the man would stand when it hurt him. She tells me, “That mean is a veteran. He served for his country, he risked his life for that flag.” Though I didn’t know it at the time, that mean was a World War Two veteran. When I recently asked my mother to recall that day to me, she told me that i was too young to understand his determination to recognize the flag. Now, years later, I would like to say that I understand. That flag represents America, the people that have fought and sacrificed for it, and the men and women that have died in service. That flag represents so much more than stars and stripes. I didn’t quite understand at the time why it was so important that the veteran stand, but now I do. The National Anthem rang out, and the veteran stood and honored all that the flag stands for.
Freedom is more than just “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint,” as Oxford Dictionary defines it. Its’ not just the ability to vote for office and read your rights from the Constitution. Freedom is something that is fought for, something that people give their lives to preserve. Freedom is the strength behind this country and the thankless miracle of our society.
I still remember the veteran from the football game. I can’t imagine soon forgetting the look of pride on his face as he faced his flag and his National Anthem played around him. I will continue to think about him, and all of the sacrificing me nand women, as I stand with my hand over my heart, finally understanding the true reason that we stand for our flag. May freedom, the reason that we all can enjoy our lives the great way they are, forever ring.
Thoughts on Freedom
By Jace Glover
Freedom is a right every human being has, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity, and we have our Veterans to thank for our freedom. My grandfathers both served in the Army during the Vietnam War and put their lives on the line daily, so that our families could live free in our wonderful country.
As I have grown up watching my grandfathers in their daily lives, I have seen the struggles both have still today for the sacrifices they made during their service. The price of freedom definitely did not come free. Our Veterans paid and still pay the price, whether it be through a physical, mental, or social disability. I have the utmost respect for all Veterans and a love that is so big for my grandfathers for the sacrifices they made for me and our whole country.
Thanks to the efforts of all Veterans I did not have to fight for our freedom, rather I was born free. Freedom should never be taken away from any person as too many men and women fought for us to be free. To be free is to be human and vice versa. Without our freedom we truly would be mindless cogs in a machine turning away. There would be no creativity or imagination, it would just be one idea or concept repeated day after day.
I will quote Carrie Jones in saying, “The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.” This means that to be truly happy in life we must sustain the freedom that was fought so hard for by our Veterans. To sustain the freedom, we too need to be courageous and stand up for ourselves and fight to keep what was gifted to us through the many sacrifices of the men and women before us.
I am eternally grateful for my grandfathers and all Veterans because if it wasn’t for their courage and bravery, I would not be the person I am today or have the rights I so humbly enjoy!
“Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life,” Bob Marley