Editor's note: The 2015 Veterans Day Essay Contest, hosted by the American Freedom Museum, was open to East Texas area high school graduating seniors. The focus of the essay was "Why Veterans Day is Important." These are the two winners:
America has a history unlike any other country - rising up from under the shadow of a powerful nation to become a force that shaped the world as it is today. This unique narrative is a result of the men and women who hold their convictions in high enough regard to act upon them on the battlefield. Throughout American history, millions of men and women have risen up to sacrifice their own well being, creating a country where citizens can live their life in comfort, far from the thought of war. As a result, many people forget the sacrifice of the veterans around them. While Veterans Day reminds the public of this sacrifice, it serves an even greater purpose. As people honor veterans, stories and memories are discussed, reminding civilians that significance exists behind their cloud of distractions.
When a soldier enlists and deploys, their reality takes a new shape. They witness the absolute deprivation of humanity, then come home to a world of shopping malls and social media. Beyond sorrow, veterans bear a burden of having lived for significance that those around them can't understand. Few things in modern society carry enough weight to evoke a true meaning. It is a gift to the American people to live beyond the grief that accompanies oppression, but value is measured in cost. The public cannot understand the value of their freedom, security, and stability; because they do not see the cost service members pay. On Veterans Day, as people honor the service members in their lives, they come face to face with the cost of their liberties, and in turn their value. This value is accompanied by a demand. The sacrifice, both on the battlefield and at home, made by veterans, demands that the American people live out their lives in manner that matches the value of freedom. Participating in Veterans Day calls out American to not waste the opportunities presented to them, but to live out their lives with the same significance as veterans.
As a nation, it is important to set aside a time to honor veterans who have sacrificed for freedom. It is with that purpose in mind that Veterans Day was created. However, its impact extends beyond the individuals the day honors. Veterans Day challenges Americans to recognize and act upon the value of freedom that service members have defined.
- Morgan "Andie" McCoy
Grace Community School
Life is made up of options and choices. Just this morning, I made a multitude of choices. I chose what radio station to listen to, what to talk about with my peers, and even what brand of cereal to eat. In America we have the liberty to make these choices, however, as Charlie Dent said, "Freedom does not come without a price." Thankfully, we individuals who are willing to make sacrifices in order to ensure we are never stripped of the freedom we hold so dear. These men and women are our veterans, and Veterans Day is only a small token of our appreciation for the sacrifices they have made for our nation.
When I was younger, I associated Veterans Day as a day off from school. I never gave it much thought, and did not realize its actual meaning. However, as I matured, I became more aware of the sacrifices our veterans have made. Nov. 11 is a special day in which we honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and remember those who have bravely given their lives to protect ours. Remembering and honoring these veterans is important because many times, their effort and service seem forgotten and unappreciated. Veterans Day serves to show our gratitude for our soldiers. This day reminds all Americans that the heroes who defend our country, are in fact heroes, and should be honored and shown out utmost appreciation. It is also important to remember that behind every soldier, is a family that makes tremendous sacrifices while their loved ones serve our country.
Our soldiers' valor, bravery, sacrifices, commitment, and patriotism are symbols for us to revere and respect. These "Freedom-Protectors" have valiantly fought and endured hardships, so we may be privileged to make choices and practice the liberties offered by our great nation. These men and women are our veterans, and Veterans Day serves to make sure we never forget these honorable men and women. I would like to express my gratitude and admiration to our veterans by saying thank you for your service and sacrifice.
- Filipe Contaifer
Lindale High School