Two Payson High School students, junior Tina Jackson and sophomore Samantha Anderson, took first and second place respectively in the local Veterans of Foreign War Voice of Democracy essay competition.
Jackson also finished second in the District 6 competition, earning her a total of $175 in prize money. Both students were honored last week at a ceremony held at the high school.
Here are their winning essays:
My Commitment to America's Future
by Tina Jackson
Payson High School junior
When I think about the future, I can't help but thank the past. Ever since Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, there have been men and women that have changed the course of American history. These early people are often forgotten as we modern Americans go about our free lives day to day.
Not frequently enough do I stop and think about the moments of victory and defeat our forefathers endured on the misty battlefields, the tears and triumph of the families of soldiers and leaders of our great nation, the debate and controversy of our presidents and activists, the blood and sweat of women and children that have opened their hearts and stood their ground.
America has suffered through a Great Depression, countless battles and life-changing wars. We have seen our nation and our countrymen excel in almost every field imaginable whether it be putting a man on the moon, in the field of sciences, to sports heroes on the fields, America's pastime.
Women have risen up to be recognized as more than just the homemaker and an equal element in a relationship and in the workplace, giving all woman-kind a voice and inspiration.
Americans have witnessed the last 43 most powerful gentlemen in our country lead us through hard times and good times and lend the encouragement and light the fire in our eyes that every citizen thirsts for in our weakest hour and time of need.
America knows that Red, White, and Blue aren't just any colors, they are colors that symbolize our freedom and our duty as natives and citizens of this country. I have the opportunity to seek and achieve the American Dream; to live the way I desire, worship the God I choose, and achieve the goals I aspire toward. How many other countries can say that?
As an American citizen, I have so much at my fingertips; so much I can accomplish that the men and women before me have done their best to pave the way for me. But, it is true that their job is not done yet. It is my responsibility to take over where they left off.
I have heard so many times that "Children are America's future!" I am America's future, and I raise my right hand to recite the pledge every day, bow my head to take a moment of silence, and as God is my witness, I fully commit myself to this wonderful, free country I live in. I promise to respect my fellow American. I will not take for granted anything that is put in front of me to help me succeed. I will use the education I have already received and plan to receive to give back and prepare the future.
So one day when there is a young woman like myself ready to unleash herself upon the world and take advantage of every freedom and right given to her, she will do as I did and give back to society, paint her white picket fence, vote, stop and smell the roses and, above all, give thanks to the past. Because just as I thank the past today, I can't wait for the future to thank me for my commitment.
My Commitment to America's Future
by Samantha Anderson
Payson High School sophomore
A commitment is a promise, or something that you can't turn back on. I am the commitment to America's future, for I am the child of the future.
While I look around at my peers today, I wonder what their children are going to be like. These kids that are around me all the time always talk about getting drunk, or how they are going to go home after school and smoke some marijuana. I don't even think of going to parties or raves and, hopefully, my children won't either. I don't want to ruin the rest of my life or see my children ruin their lives with alcohol or drugs.
Kids my age, and younger, are out in the world using drugs today. Some parents don't realize what they are getting their children into, they think that since it didn't hurt them when they were their age then it won't hurt their children. Today most of the population of teenagers are using drugs and it is increasing by the years.
My children will be my future, and I would like my children to be drug free. It is a fact that drugs will ruin your life. My decision will affect my future children. I am involved in a program that allows me to be a part of the fire department, and it helped me realize how tremendously hard it is to see one of my peers getting involved with drugs. It would be hard to imagine if a loved one got rushed to the emergency room for overdosing on drugs.
In conclusion, my commitment to America's future will be that my children will be drug free, and I will always be drug free forever. When I actually think about it, I realize I had the opportunities to try drugs, but I turned it down because I know that I am better than that. I have better things to do than sit at someone else's house and do drugs or drink. I have the rest of my life to look forward to. I would actually like to have some brain cells left so I can go to college.