2008 | Teen Ink


January 21, 2009
By Forky GOLD, Newberry, South Carolina
Forky GOLD, Newberry, South Carolina
11 articles 16 photos 2 comments

There have been several events in the past year that I believe have molded me for the better. To some, these events may appear as trivial and unimportant, but they have made me the upstanding citizen I am today. They have broaden my horizons and brought forth to my attention new ideas. The people and places that are important to the world during our adolescent stage of life become what is most meaningful to us, and thus give us a greater understanding of the world around us.

One event that has shaped me is the presidential election of 2008. This has been a clear turning point in my political opinion. Before this election, I view politics as pointless, idiotic, and nothing that concerned me at this phase of my life, but I have finally realized the true impact they have on me everyday. I realized that they affect everything: the school I attend everyday, the places I shop, and the freedom I constantly enjoy. Now I also understand the importance of using our constitutional right to vote. In our fast paced world, it is easy to take something as easy as getting to pick our nation’s leader for granted. I probably would have voted like my friends or parents in the past, but now I see that doing like the society around you has displeasing results. The election Barack Obama as our country’s forty-third president has yet to prove itself as a wise or foolish decision, but I am sure that whatever the outcome, it will have an effect on every citizen in the United States. Then again, how come this election not change ones views of our country? It shows that we really do give equal chances to everyone and that the “American Dream” truly does still live on. America have never had a biracial president such as Obama, but most of our country, and the also the world, has greeted him with open arms. This helps a good citizen realize that even in a large country, a minority will support each other. This, however, brings about the larger question of if America now focuses on only the minorities and leaves the majorities to fend for themselves. The election of Obama has lead me to believe that ethnicity, race, sex, and sexuality are all unnecessary factors to the equation. I sure that opinion will help me on my path to being a good citizen.

A second event last year that made me a more understanding citizen of the United States also happened to be political. For once, something I considered an unshakable part of American life was challenged. In Washington, D.C., a group of people got together and began to petition for a gun ban for the entire capital city. This would mean that all of Washington’s citizens would be required to hand all of their guns over to the government and would not be allowed to purchase more. For the first time I could remember in my life, one of our constitutional rights had been put to question. Being from the small Southern town of Newberry, guns seem to me as normal as any household item. Being without a gun in the home would be like not having a stove or microwave. Besides, I was a competitive pistol shooter, and there was no way anyone could take my guns away from me. This attempt to take away guns clearly conflicted with the Second Amendment that declared all American citizens had the right to bare arms. Challenging the Bill of Rights was completely unheard for me. How could someone challenge one of the basic promises our forefathers had given to us? This made me realize I would never be for anything that was against our constitutional rights. I may not agree with everything our rights have done or caused, but they are our rights all the same. It was our forefathers reasoning that we should have them, and taking them away would be a dishonor to their memory. Forming this second principle of my political believes has also made me a better citizen.

The last event in 2008 that helped me become a greater inhabitant of this fine nation was the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. This gigantic sporting event made me realize even more clearly that I wanted to compete in one of these events and make my country proud. The performance of our athletes also gave me an enormous sense of pride. It was proud to have train three times at the complex most of those athletes called home. I was proud to be an American. This made me realize I wanted to instill this pride in someone one day. I want to serve my country to the best of my abilities. The ambitions the Beijing games helped me gain with make me a better athlete and citizen, today and tomorrow. Is wanting to serve your country not what makes you a fantastic citizen? I believed so, and thus, the Olympics have certainly pushed me down that path. Beijing also proved that a country could rise above the negative effects it has brought down upon itself. The Olympics were China’s way of gaining back some of the respect they had lost in the world. They went about with efforts to clean up the streets and the air to make them more suitable for their guests from around the world. This showed me that anyone can correct the horrors they themselves have caused and make them right again. This has convinced me that I need to drive forward to make my country a better place and correct the mistakes my parents and grandparents before me have made.

What makes a great citizen? How does one come about perfecting this enormous ideal? These questions may have hundreds or thousands of correct answers, but I believe I fit into every one of them. I feel the need to serve my country in my own way, even if it was not a conventional way I decided own. I hope to make a lasting difference in our society in my own quiet way. I may be from a small town, but I will not let that stop me. I do not want the notoriety of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, or even Michael Phelps, but I still want to make that difference to someone, even if it is only one person. That is what will make me a good American citizen.

The author's comments:
This was written in response to Duke Unveristy's entrance essay question of: "What events in 2008 have made you a better citizen? Please use some examples."
(That may not be the original prompt, but it was something of that description.)

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