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Do Hard Things

Tears ran down his face...wet tears of compassion that would change his life forever...

It had started out as just an ordinary day for Connor Cress, a sixteen year old student. But then, hollow eyes of a starving boy stared up at him from the magazine. The article told how two billion die from lack of clean water each year. Connor never dreamed that this one picture of a child suffering from malnutrition would change his life and thousands of others. Burdened with conviction, Connor worked hard and started the organization Dry Tears, which brings pure water to help such third world countries.

This one teenager made a difference. He spoke up. He worked hard. And he saved lives.

When I first heard the new Voice of Democracy theme, my initial thought was, “Of course my generation has a role in America’s future!” Our generation will be leading America through crucial years, years that will be marked with some of the gravest challenges the United States has ever known. But when we step back and learn from other generations how to selflessly do hard things, I believe we can and will make our role significant in America’s future.

The next thirty years represent heart wrenching challenges for our country. The attack of 9/11 presented a new type of enemy for my generation: terrorism. I remember sitting on the couch in my living room when I was only six years old. In horror, I stared at the TV screen and watched the twin towers going up in smoke, realizing for the first time that there were people in this world who want to hurt us. My generation faces severe uncertainty. Terrorism. Debt. Unemployment. Healthcare. Illegal Immigration. These are just some of the challenges for America.

My generation reminds me of another era that faced similar circumstances. People were celebrating and living lavishly in the roaring 20’s. But then came the Great Depression, one of the most devastating times in our history, which was then followed by the challenges of World War II. Young soldiers faced adversity, worked hard and defeated the enemy. In his book The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw said that the reason the generation united together was not just a common purpose, but also common values, such as honor, duty, faith, loyalty and courage. Those people did great things for their country, hard things, and they inspire my generation to follow in their footsteps. And I believe that if we learn from history and from people just like you, I believe that we can and will do hard things, too. And, seeing all that you did, encourages us not just to wait until we’re older to start impacting this world. It makes us realize that we can do things today, even hard things while we are young that can leave a legacy.

There are girls like Faith, who after hearing about the soldiers giving their lives to keep America free, decided to start Operation Teddy Bear. She and her family sent hundreds of bears overseas to the soldiers, to help them feel appreciated for their great sacrifice. It was her way of saying thank you, because she realized that our military need to hear it. They deserve to hear it.

Then there are girls like Elise Hall, who was deeply affected by a youth in government program called Teen Pact in Oklahoma. In January of 2011, she will enter the State Capitol House of Representatives at the age of 21 and as the youngest woman elected to the State House in history. In an interview on her amazing story, Elise said, “I ran for State Representative because I wanted to make a difference for my generation, because I wanted to be able to be a fresh voice.”

And as for me? I hope to change the world through the written word of my stories, my novels and my poetry. I’m a writer, and I want to stand up, speak out and leave my legacy as an American. I may be young. However, one day, I will go from wearing red Converse to high heels and from ripped jeans to a suit skirt. But I’m not waiting until then to start making a difference in this world. Over two years ago, my Mom and I started a speech and debate club called Voices of Truth, to teach teenagers how to pursue the public platform and let their voice be heard. I have had the opportunity to take my speeches to multiple community platforms, including full church congregations and multiple youth groups. Then, our Voices of Truth club started running an H2O ministry, which stands for Hope 2 Others, at our church for those in need. We make bags full of food, water and other necessities which we pass out to the homeless on the streets.

I want to make an impact on my generation today.

Historically, it has been shown that Americans rise to the occasion when facing severe obstacles. I believe that my generation will, too. Your children, your nieces and your nephews will be the people that go down in history. We are the future. When I see the great things other young people do, it inspires me and gives me the hope and confidence that my generation will step up to the plate and face the challenges that will come our way. So raise the bar and push us to do hard things. Push me to do hard things. Because we can. And we will...just like you.



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