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2011 Voice of Democracy winning essay
First-place school and district winner Hunter Pierdolla presents his essay.
By Hunter Pierdolla
Pride can be classified as a personal feeling of pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, or the achievements of those who are closely associated to that person. This statement is closely related to the pride in the brotherhood of our military today.
Having pride in our military plays an essential role in keeping this country alive. It is what is necessary to keep our troops motivated and what drives them on through what many of us would call torture. Hamilton Fish once said, “If our country is worth dying for in time of war let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in time of peace.” Pride cannot be displayed just in the good times but also in the times of desperation and despair. When all seems lost, pride is the key ingredient that will sustain hope in the hearts of fellow Americans.
Is there still pride in serving in our military? When a nineteen-year-old young man sacrifices his life to protect his country, or a twenty-five-year-old woman returns to the battlefield with a prosthetic leg in order to continue to serve, I’d say there is pride. At this moment young men and women are risking their lives to protect each and every American who should also take pride in the actions of our soldiers. Many of our military personnel are volunteers because they strive to keep this place we call “home” safe and sound.
Most of us know that Senator John McCain spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. However, his former cellmate endured a great deal of adversity in his time of imprisonment. George Everett “Bud” Day is “the toughest man I have ever known,” McCain once said. “He had an unwavering and unshakable sense of honor that made him able to withstand physical and mental pressures of an enormous degree.” Day spent over seven years in Vietnamese prison camps, most of it in solitary confinement, and though he was later recaptured, he was the only American POW to escape North Vietnam, an incredible act that earned him a Congressional Medal of Honor. Even though he was tortured and starved during his time in the prison camps, Day refused to give his enemies any information that could endanger his fellow soldiers. When he was eventually set free, he returned to active military duty, despite everything he’s been through. “You have the greatest job given to you as a young man: to serve your country,” Day tells the youth. “It’s the single best calling for a young person.” This man epitomizes the true meaning of pride.
As our soldiers charge the battlefield with the American flag soaring high, we are speaking the Pledge of Allegiance with our right hand over our hearts, if that’s not pride I don’t know what is. The United States of America is one of the most respected countries in the world because of our military, not only do they have strength in numbers but they also possess the qualities necessary to fight through the pain and anguish that may challenge them in their line of duty. In our Star Spangled Banner it says “ ...land of the free, and the home of the brave.” As citizens we are lucky to be free and have the rights that many others in this world do not. Many times we take advantage of the rights that are given to us by our military. Each and every day we are able to wake up without having to worry about our lives being taken, is a blessing that we should all cherish. Our youth takes pride in serving their country, just as we should all respect what they have given us. Pride is the baseline of our military’s standards; honor your country, and have pride in what you accomplish as a soldier, that is what our brave young men and women of this generation live by.
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