Local Rim country student Carolyn Converti, 17, recently won third place in the district essay contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The district includes 10 towns.
At the time she wrote the essay, Converti was a student at Payson Center for Success. She is currently being home schooled.
For her effort, Converti received a plaque, a check for $200, a VFW patch and an American flag.
"We were very surprised and very proud of her," her mother, Kathleen Converti, said. After she gets her GED, Converti hopes to attend Teen Mania Honor Academy in Garden Valley, Texas.
This is her essay:
We, as a nation, are a republic that holds democratic elections. We are a self-governing and free people. This freedom was bought at a very high price because of those men and women who proudly stood up to fight for our country, whether in words or actions like our forefathers or in actions like our beloved veterans. We also, as American young men and women, have the same responsibility on us as those before us. We must fight to keep America free for all people so that we may live happy and successful lives.
We have been blessed in the past, because of the strong words and actions of our fathers before us, and now, we must take upon ourselves the responsibility of keeping our country strong, in both words and actions. To keep our country strong we must reflect upon the strengths of our past. Our biggest strength was bestowed upon us by strong moral men's actions and words. Abraham Baldwin, a signer of the Constitution, said, "A free government can only be happy when the public principles and opinions are properly directed by religion and education. It should therefore be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity to encourage and support the principles of religion and morality."
Freedom allows us to live amongst brilliant minds; freedom empowers brilliant ideas; and freedom upholds brilliant and majestic actions, which have shaped our beautiful country into a perfectly entwined tapestry of ideas and people. Look, at how far we have come and how much we can accomplish, if we would only work out our responsibilities. How many young adults do you see taking on the same responsibilities as those before them, working towards a stronger people, a greater nation, and a better world? Patrick Henry stated, "Righteousness alone can exalt America as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. The great pillars of all government and of social life; I mean virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible."
I know that throughout my childhood my mother would encourage me so much that I was scared I would disappoint her, but yet throughout all this time I've never disappointed her. She actually thinks that we've accomplished more in our young age, then she had ever truly expected us to do. And it gives her joy and gives me satisfaction to see what my sisters and I can accomplish and how we accomplish it. We are able to accomplish great things when we don't limit our possibilities and we begin to see nothing is impossible. For we all have great potential, great minds, and great personalities. We can accomplish so much if we put our mind to it and put all our heart into it.
Freedom is not simply partaking in all the rights you have as a citizen of America. If it were, then there would be no real freedom, because freedom to partake in actions that will hurt one's self and others leads to destruction, such as caused by overindulgence in alcohol, drugs, power, greed, pride and at the root of it all, unrestrained selfishness. What's the point of having a freedom that will destroy those you love and those who are affected by your life? If given enough reign, this type of freedom takes away the freedom of others to enjoy life and the pursuit of happiness, which is a basic right given in our constitution to every citizen. Without morals, standards, laws, and beliefs, we have nothing. There is no true freedom until there is righteousness. Unless you have a reason to obey the laws; you won't obey them. It is the same with other people; unless they have a reason to live a good life they won't do it, but we have proof that if you live a good life after God's standards and laws, you will live a happy, joyful, peaceful, and satisfying life. The only way to turn people back to the values of our forefathers, which made this country great, is to eliminate the junk being stored up in our minds and unhealthy belief patterns. The only way to change their mindset is to turn from the selfish and corrupt thinking to a more virtuous and self-sacrificing thought process. Samuel Adams stated, "Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness. Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."
George Mason, Father of the Bill of Rights, proudly declared, "We are not to rank among the nations of the world; but whether our Independence shall prove a blessing or a curse must depend upon our own wisdom or folly, virtue or wickedness. Justice and virtue are the vital principles of republican government."
I'm proud to live in a great nation, free country, and with a powerful president who faithfully stands for justice, truth, morality, virtue, and traditional American values passed down by our forefathers, whose intent is not to change our Constitution, but to fulfill it. Thank God for America.