(Editor’s note:William Christopher Warren II was first place winner in VFW Post 7547’s Voice of Democracy essay contest for high school students in Clinton City and Sampson County Schools. This is his winning essay.)
Recently, as I was flipping through the television stations, something caught my attention on a local news program. A Gallop poll stated that fewer than 4 Americans out of 10, a whopping 39%, have a positive outlook on our nation. 39%?! This is the lowest rating, the reporter stated, since 1979. Why is that? America is the “go to” country. It’s a “melting Pot” where everyone who wants to work hard, can be happy and successful. Why then are we so down on ourselves?!
This made me question my own optimism in regards to my country. Am I positive about my country’s future? If you watch the news or read the headlines, America is on a downward spiral, but then I began to look beneath the surface of media hype and negativity and examine why we as a nation are still considered the greatest country in the world.
I believe the answers lie in the history of our nation’s past. Our country has struggled. We struggled to gain independence and we have fought to keep our nation together. We have lived through some of the bloodiest battles on our own soil and fought gallantly and bravely around the world. We have gone through economic setbacks, recessions and a Great Depression that would have crumbled other countries.
As a country, we may falter, but we always bounce back. Again, I Ask Why? The answer to that is the very reason I am optimistic about my country’s future. It is what makes our country so great! It is the reason, hundreds of years later, people still see that beautiful lady in the harbor of New York and yearn to make a new start here on America’s soil. Political leaders with their policies and programs and agendas may come and go, but it is the people of this nation that make the difference. The core of our nation is built on hard work, self-sacrifice and a willingness to “see it through”, whatever it may be.
So, it isn’t the capital building or the White House or any other monument that makes our country great, it is the PEOPLE of this nation that make it great. It isn’t one race or one religion; it’s all races and every religion that make it so.
For the nation, it is being willing to defend our nation’s ideals and standing up for what we believe, even if that means the ultimate sacrifice. It is being able to step aside when the need arises or lending a helping hand when a neighbor needs you. That’s what sets our country apart from all others and gives me hope for my future and the generations that follow me.
Our nation is changing and I believe that is a good thing. We are not the same country we were 15 years ago when I was born or even 5 years ago. So much is happening in our culture, in our economy and at home. As a nation, though, we must stand strong to the values our founding fathers envisioned and believed in. We as a nation must have faith in the foundation that was laid 237 years ago.
From the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. These words are not old fashioned or outdated, and they are more relevant today than ever before.
It’s easy to be negative. The hard part is being courageous, courageous in our convictions and standing strong in the face of adversity. Yes, I am optimistic about our nation’s future. And I am proud to say it. There isn’t a crystal ball. And no one can predict the future. But I believe by looking at our past, it gives me encouragement for the present and hope for the future of this great country…my country!