The young voices of democracy, Sonoma teens on why patriotism still matters

Since 1943, the Voice of Democracy has been the Veteran of Foreign War’s premier scholarship program. Each year more than 100,000 high school students compete fir more than $2.5 million in scholarships and incentives. Featured here is the winner from VFW Sonoma Post #1943, scripts for a speech on the theme: “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.”

Delaney Gold-Diamond | Sonoma Valley High School

Long before I was born, German Philosopher Freidrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I was born in 1996, and now I am an old woman. I remember when I was a little girl growing up in the early 2000s and all of the challenges our brave country faced. We survived acts of terrorism, natural disaster, and have continued to survive into a stronger future.

I believe in America’s future because, against all odds, the United States has the strength, the bravery, and the unity to emerge stronger.

Although I was almost too young to remember it, I can still recall one of the most horrific events of the modern era with perfect detail: The September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On that fateful day, nearly 3,000 innocent American civilians died in an unprecedented attack on our Homeland. But Americans didn’t cower in their homes. I remember learning about our heroic first responders who rushed to put out the fires in New York City and Washington DC, fighting to save as many lives as possible.  And on May 2, 2011, United States Special Forces tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden, the man responsible for the attacks.

I’m optimistic about America’s future because we will always fight back and pursue justice with unwavering determination.

When I was a little older, my brave country survived one of the most overwhelming natural disasters we have ever encountered: Hurricane Sandy. The Category 3 storm clocked winds at maximum speeds of 115 miles per hour, devastating the eastern seaboard.   New York and New Jersey were hit hard, and left with 68 billion dollars in damage and 286 lives lost. However, our cities and people did not remain waterlogged for long. Volunteer organizations from all over the country joined forces to repair the damage and bring normalcy and recovery to those who lost their homes. Generous Americans from every state donated money to help their fellow citizens.  I believe in America’s future because we will always band together in the face of natural disasters

When I was growing up, one of the greatest threats to our country and our world was Global Warming. However, due to the strength of our scientists, our skilled laborers, and spectacular feats of American engineering and ingenuity, we are no longer threatened by climate change. I believe in America’s future because of our inventiveness and perseverance to challenge the impossible.

What does not kill us makes us stronger. When I was younger, the horror of terrorism, and the power of nature did not kill us. We didn’t allow climate change to kill us. Those obstacles, those things that the American people together have overcome, have made us stronger.  That is why, even though I am an old woman and may not get to see it, I still believe in a bright future for America.

Delaney’s speech will represent the Sonoma post at the District 16 competition. Congratulations also to Magnus Forsythe, a Sonoma Valley High School senior, second place, and Madeline Libby, SVHA sophomore, third place.

Patriot’s Pen

For younger students, the VFW stages an essay competition. This year’s theme was: “What Patriotism Means to Me.”

Isabel Eagles | First Place Tie | Altimira Middle School

Without patriotism our country is a table without legs, a band without instruments, a tree without a trunk. Our country is a machine and patriotism is its fuel. Without it, our country will fall and sputter to a stop.

Family dinners may seem unimportant, frivolous, trivial, but to me, they are one of the most influential parts of the day. Not only is it great to chat and laugh with my family but also to listen to my parents talk passionately about our country. The more I listen at dinner the greater awareness I have of my community, the greater my understanding of my country. To me patriotism means being involved with the controversy between parties or ideas in our government. The United States of America was founded on the idea that you can speak your mind and share your opinions freely. I feel very lucky to live in a country where I feel safe to have my own beliefs, a country were I can share my views and opinions at the dinner table without worrying about the consequences.

On December 1, 1955 over 15,000 Americans boycotted the Montgomery bus system. This act was beyond brave yet used no violence, only words and peaceful disagreement to fight for a worthy cause. Being loyal to your country means challenging government when it spins out of control. Without the many courageous men and women who believed in rights for African Americans some of the most knowledgeable, well educated, and dedicated American citizens might still be treated extremely unfairly.

If America was deprived of the brave, noble women’s right advocates such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone etc. over half of America’s population would be unable to vote let alone have positions in government. There are many citizens in the history of the United States of America that have contributed to the way we live today, all have which have been brave, valiant, and very patriotic.

Patriotism is a feeling like no other. It is the feeling I can sense when families are reunited with their brave soldiers, the feeling I experience when I open a history textbook and learn about many courageous individuals who worked together to create one united nation. It is the way I feel when I put my right hand over my heart and pledge my allegiance to the United States of America.

Alec Nogara | First Place Tie | St. Francis Solano

To me, a patriot is someone whose bravery and love for their country is so great, they’re willing to lay down their life for what they believe. A person who’s completely dedicated to protecting their fellow brothers, and doing whatever is necessary to shield them from harm. In my opinion, my great uncle Jimmy was a true patriot. Spending a total of five years in Korea and fighting in multiple battles, he was one of the lucky soldiers who were able to make it through a tour of duty, and return home alive.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend much time with my great uncle. When he passed away in 2007, it was really hard for me to take in. To get through those times, my father would tell me stories about him and always end them with, “If the stories of those who have passed on are told, their memories will live on forever.” This was extremely inspirational. The stories showed me that my great uncle wasn’t just a relative, but a role model that I could really look up to.

All servicemen share the same love, honor and devotion for their country. They all do their best to protect what is right and just. Without them, our country would have nothing. Along with brave soldiers and patriots like my great uncle, we pay tribute to those brave men and women who willingly served America on September 11.

Although many of these brave people have been forgotten over the years, we still remember and keep them in our hearts. They are America’s true heart and soul, and the people who keep our country a safeplace. As Kahlil Gibran one said, “Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.” Meaning, if our country didn’t have the millions of brave soldiers and servicemen who put their lives on the line everyday, we wouldn’t have anything.

Congratulations also to Nichole Hanson and Raegan Cordero of St. Francis Solano, and Kohana Bowman of Altimira.




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