Voice of Democracy Essay Winners
The annual Voice of Democracy Essay competition, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, announced the two winners during Veterans Day events last Saturday in Jena.
The two winners, siblings from Jena, are Jena High School student Payton Girlinghouse and Jena Junior High School student Owen Girlinghouse, whose parents are Kurt and Deborah Girlinghouse.
The following are the winning essays:
The Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy
By Payton Girlinghouse
Democracy, as a system of authority, embodies the principles of freedom, equality and justice. In the grand tapestry of political systems, democracy stands out as a beacon of hope, offering numerous attributes that make it a cherished form of government. In this essay, we will explore some of the greatest attributes of our democracy and why it is essential, especially for high school students, to understand and appreciate them.
One of the most significate attributes of our democracy is the emphasis it places on individual liberty and freedom. In a democratic society, citizens enjoy fundamental rights like freedom of speech, religion and assembly. High school students, in particular, benefit from these liberties, as they allow for the exploration of ideas, the pursuit of education and the development of critical thinking skills. Democracy ensures that your voice matters, enabling you to express your opinions and beliefs without fear of restriction or prosecution.
Our democracy backs the principle of equal representation. Through regular elections, every citizen has the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. This element ensures that no one group or individual can hold unchecked power for too long. For high school students, this means that your voice is heard, even if you are not of voting age yet. Your concerns and needs can be advocated for by elected officials who represent your interest.
Democracy places a strong importance on accountability and the rule of law. Elected officials are accountable to the people they serve and they must operate within the structure of the law. This trait ensures that those in power are held responsible for their actions and decisions. For high school students, this means learning about the importance of ethics and integrity in leadership, skills that are crucial for future civic engagement and responsible citizenship.
An essential attribute of democracy is the protection of minority rights. In a diverse society like ours, this ensures that even small or marginalized groups have a voice and are protected from the tyranny of the majority. For high school students, this is a valuable lesson in tolerance and empathy, teaching us to appreciate and respect differences in opinions, cultures and backgrounds.
Democracy’s ability to adapt and evolve is another significant attribute. It allows for the peaceful transition of power and the inclusion of new ideas and policies as the needs of society change. For high school students, this serves as a reminder that change is possible through peaceful means, encouraging advances and the pursuit of solutions to the world’s problems through the democratic process.
In conclusion, the greatest attributes of our democracy – individual liberty, equal representation, accountability, protection of minority rights and adaptability – form the foundation of a just and inclusive society. As high school students, understanding and appreciating these attributes is essential, as they provide the outline for our civil liberties, civic participation and the promise of a brighter future. Democracy, as imperfect as it may be, is a system worth upholding, cherishing and working to improve. It is our responsibility to ensure that these attributes continue to thrive, fostering a society where every voice counts and every citizen can contribute to shaping a better world.
How Are You Inspired By America?
By Owen Girlinghouse
America, the land of dreams, opportunities and variety, has always inspired me, even as an eighth-grader. As a young student, I find inspiration in various features of this great nation, from its history to its values and the stories of individuals who have achieved remarkable feats. Here’s how America inspires me: America’s core values of freedom and equal opportunity are a constant source of inspiration. The idea that all people are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness echoes deeply with me. It reminds me that regardless of where I come from or who I am, I have the potential to achieve my dreams through hard work and determination.
America’s history is filled with stories of individuals who have overcome adversity and achieved great things. The founding fathers who drafted the Constitution to civil rights inspire me to believe in the power of ideas and the importance of standing up for what is right.
America’s cultural variety is like a mixture of different backgrounds and traditions. This variety inspires me to embrace and celebrate differences. It teaches me that by learning from people of various cultures, I can become a more open-minded and compassionate individual.
America is a hub of innovation and creativity. The stories of inventors like Thomas Edison and entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, show me that with creativity and dedication, I can turn my ideas into reality. This inspires me to explore my interests and think outside the box.
America is also a place where people often extend a helping hand to those in need. Acts of kindness and community service inspire me to be a better person and contribute positively to my community. I see the importance of giving back and making a difference in the lives of others.
America’s efforts in environmental conservation and sustainability inspire me to be more conscious of our planet’s well-being. I believe in the importance of protecting our environment for future generations and America’s initiatives in the regards for the world.
In conclusion, as an eighth-grader, America inspires me in numerous ways, from its values of freedom and likeness to its rich history, cultural variety and commitment to innovation and creativity. These inspirations fuel my dreams and goals, encouraging me to work hard, make a positive impact on my community and strive for a better future.