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Liberty and Justice For All
Sometime ago, I was thinking about our country. My thoughts had actually been triggered by my first period class at school, as odd as it sounds. Every morning we would sit in our seats and talk to neighbors and friends, and every morning at eight the announcements would come on with a click, and the vice-principle would say, “Please stand for the pledge of allegiance.” We would stand, and then the first words would ring through the speaker. “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America…” We would face the flag, and as the words began I would recite the pledge I’d known since pre-school. My voice would blend easily with the voice in the speaker, and we spoke to the same rhythm. Every word was on beat. It couldn’t be called a chant, but it was like a song somehow. There was no music, but there was rhythm. It was a simple, yet inspiring song. It always had been, at least to me.
Every time I would stand to say the pledge, though, I would find that I was one of the only ones speaking. Or that others were speaking, but saying the pledge in a disrespectful way, speaking as loudly and quickly as possible, never thinking of the words, or the meaning, laughing all the while. They were only being typical teenagers, I suppose. Never thinking about anything, never taking anything serious. Everyday, those few moments nearly killed me. I used to wonder if maybe I was too serious about being patriotic. I used to think that maybe I was just being stupid, but now I know otherwise.
In the late 1700’s our country was much different than it was now. We weren’t America. In fact, we were colonies of Britain, and had been for years and years and years. The colonies and Britain had always gotten along well enough, but things had begun to change. It was a change that I believe was inspired from God. It was the beginning of the Revolutionary War. People began to realize that they were being treated unfairly, and that freedom was something worth fighting for. Something worth dying for. A man, named Nathan Hale, was a volunteer spy for George Washington and the Continental Army. He was caught and the redcoats hung him. His final statement was, “I only regret that I have one life to give for my country.” He was hung shortly after he said this. Nathan was just 21.
But Nathan was not alone in dying. Many other men died, young and old, fighting for the freedom and liberties that they were so inspired to fight for. They saw beyond the vain treasures that some many others valued so much, and worked to gain a gift that would eventually change the world.
When I think of America, I think of that war, of that amazing period in history when people had so much spirit that they were willing to die to keep that same patriotic spirit alive. They were willing to pay the ultimate price for freedom. How many people would do the same now? How many people would give their life and say that they regret that they only have one life to give for the cause of freedom? Remember that colonist were poor. They didn’t have much. They gave up dreams and work to help fight. They melted down their treasures to create bullets and weapons. Wives helped their husbands and gave their time for the hope that so many patriots had. They risked their ambitions and often died for this hope.
The colonists were not trained soldiers. They had little experience with war or fighting. But they had spirit, which I believe, kept them going. They had wise leaders who kept that spirited flame ablaze, and that same flame erupted into a wildfire that spread across the colonies. There were still many who were loyalists, or Tories (as the patriots called them), so they didn’t have every single colonist on their side.
The Continental Army was not in anyway big. Americans were greatly outnumbered by England. There were many trials patriots went through. At Valley Forge, for instance. People in Boston always had it hard. Many things were hard then, but whether things were hard or not, they kept going; even when there felt like there was no hope. Eventually the sun rose on the new horizon, the dawning of a new time for America and the world. And the hopes that had lived in the hearts of some many were granted: freedom was born in the states.
But, after a time, things changed, and the patriotic spirit withered. Slowly, a little at a time, it died. And then came 9/11.
That day the spirit of America came back in the midst of ruin, and heartache. The Twin Towers collapsed, the pentagon was damaged, people were killed, and terrorists had attacked. Yet, despite all this, that same American patriotism came back. In the ruins and debree of the Towers a flag was raised, and with it the hope and spirit of America was born again. But it didn’t last long.
Now what do people do? Why wait for a national disaster to realize that we need America, and America needs us. Right now, terrorists are causing mass destruction all over the world, and yet we all seem so eager to take our troops out of Iraq. Just because we withdraw doesn’t mean terrorism will stop in America or anywhere else. Terrorists don’t plan on stopping, not until they have killed or converted every western country in the world. Its time we step up to the plate, America. We have been given the opportunity that people in the late 1700s were given. We have to fight for the causes of liberty and freedom. We have to defend what those poor colonists fought for so long ago.
I am just about to go into high school, but if our country needed it I feel that I would willingly go out and fight for to defend our freedom and rights. I think I would give my life to defend this great nation. As I sit here writing this I think of that first period class I had, where I was one of the only ones saying the pledge every day. I doubt many of them would give their life for this country. I doubt any of them would care. Every person is entitled to their own opinion, it is a basic human right, but if they don’t care about America why are they living here? I think they don’t know enough about what people in America have gone through to create this land of freedom. They don’t know what has been done for them.
I used to think I was too patriotic for my own good, but that’s exactly what our country needs. More people who care. More people who are willing to sacrifice for freedom. More people who would give more than one life for their country, if they had it.
Maybe someday people will realize that terrorism needs to be stopped, or maybe it will just be forced down their throats when terrorism becomes the cause for World War 3. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I know my history and I know that there will be a time when we will need to stand up and defend ourselves. I just hope that patriotism will spread again through this country like it has before. I hope that that flame that those colonists lit will stay burning and grow stronger. I will fight until my last breath to keep it burning.
If there was something worth fighting for, wouldn’t you fight? If there were a good reason to sacrifice wouldn’t you sacrifice? If there were something so important that needed your support, wouldn’t you support it?
Because I would. During the Revolution they had a sign that said “United we stand, divided we fall”. We need to be united in this cause or we will fall.
I will fight, sacrifice, and support my country so that there truly will be liberty, and justice, for all.