Alcohol: Lowering the Limits This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

For most, milestone birthdays will be remembered forever. A first birthday party, with pastel colored napkins and tablecloths, complete with shiny mylar balloons. Or maybe a sweet sixteen- teens dancing to the heavy beats produced by a hired DJ under colorful disco lights, their hands in the air. Eventually, one reaches arguably the biggest milestone- the age of twenty one. But how many people will really remember their twenty-first? Culturally, this birthday has been associated with binge drinking, clubbing and not being able to remember a thing the next day- and that’s seen as a normal thing, a rite of passage, so to speak.

You may think that my introduction is leading into a speech about how the drinking age should be raised, prohibition put back into play, anything done to reduce the amount of alcohol-related fatalities and overall disasters happening in small towns and cities and on college campuses everywhere. Maybe that beautiful girl on the night of her glorious twenty-first birthday drank too much. She did things that she regrets, and she wishes it hadn’t been that way. What if she had been taught the values of moderation earlier in life? What if she had been legally allowed to consume alcohol at an earlier age? What if her eighteenth birthday hadn’t consisted of prohibited liquor sneaked into punch in a friend’s basement, but instead of a glass of wine with her parents? Learning moderation is key. The ban on alcohol before the age of twenty one teaches kids that it’s illegal, dangerous- and all the more tempting. More and more kids are drinking younger and younger, for the thrill of it- it is illegal, after all- and for the mature feeling one gets when they consume it. If the drinking age were lowered to a reasonable age, such as eighteen, kids could learn to associate drinking more in the respect of a glass of champagne at a wedding, or non-virgin eggnog at their grandmother’s Thanksgiving celebration, and less in the respect of “jungle juice” at fraternity parties or a flask hiding in a bad boy’s backpack.

The age of eighteen is indeed a milestone in itself. An eighteen year old can serve on a jury, enlist in the military, vote, buy cigarettes, and even get married. Some of these responsibilities enlisted to an eighteen year old are life-altering- enlisting oneself in the military, or choosing a life partner and joining them in marriage. Can a young soldier truly not have some Jack Daniels with his father before he is sent to Iraq? Can a beaming young couple really not toast to their marriage with glasses of champagne? The legal age required for alcohol consumption should be lowered, and the appropriate steps taken, to make things truly just for eighteen year olds in these respects. Moderation needs to be taught, and most of all, the topic of underage drinking cannot be swept under the rug. Parents need to educate their children and schools need to educate their students about the dangers of alcohol consumption at early ages. However, at age 18, a person is essentially an adult. They can make their own choices, and live their own lives. Why not give them this one last right?





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