Savanna Osowski, MHS junior, won first place in the local 2020-2021 Voice of Democracy contest sponsored by the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW). Korbin Leddy received second-place honors and Lydia Street was chosen as the third-place winner.
Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy contest has been the VFW’s premier scholarship program. Students compete by writing and recording an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was, “Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?” Nationally, over $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives are awarded through the program.
Osowski’s essay advances to the district contest. All district winners go on to the state level. The state winner receives an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C.
Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?
It’s a regular day at school during the pandemic. I look around my classroom and see everyone wearing masks, remembering that just over a year ago, the words “social distancing” and “quarantine” weren’t in my vocabulary. I know the future is uncertain much like it was when the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Since the Founders’ ideas were committed to paper more than 200 years ago, this country has changed drastically. Whether the changes that have taken place are adequate or appalling, they raise an important question: Is the United States today what the Founding Fathers envisioned, or is it a country that is desperately in need of a revision?
To understand Founders’ visions, we first have to delve into George Washington’s Farewell Address. In his address, he warned of the dangers of our government succumbing to political parties. This foretelling of the barrier that would divide the people when election time came around couldn’t have been more true. Discord between parties has only grown in recent years. Those that strongly support their party don’t think twice about dismissing opposing views. After all, if they’ve already penciled in a ballot bubble in their mind, why try to learn anyone else’s views? The United States has become the unfortunate victim to the system that “We the People” religiously follow. The only time we seem to pay attention to Washington anymore is when we peer at his faded green face on our currency.
We now have to go back to before our paper money days. It’s time to look at the Founders’ visions as told in the document that started it all: the Declaration of Independence. It states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” The Founders envisioned equality for everyone involved in the future of our country. America has had a hard time achieving this, though. Slavery wasn’t abolished through the 13th Amendment until almost a century after we gained independence. It was a leap in the right direction when it happened, but slavery’s eradication didn’t bring an end to segregation. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.’s renowned “I Have a Dream” speech tackled our continued racism head on and brought America closer to freeing itself from the chains of bigotry than it had ever been. But, once again, racism wasn’t solved; it was merely slowed down. The most recent movement against racism, which is still going on today, aims to take care of the injustice once and for all. I argue, however, that this movement would not satisfy the Founders’ visions for the country because of how it has taken place.
Kick-started by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in May of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement has been marked by a combination of peaceful and violent protests.
Though the violent protests have accounted for only 7% of all those that have taken place, Axios reports that $1-2 billion dollars in damages have still been incurred. Cities have been burned down, laws have been ignored, and lives have been lost. Many professional athletes involved in this movement have also begun taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism. I simply cannot fathom that these men and women understand what message they are spreading about our country by doing this. They are exercising their First Amendment rights as they are allowed, but the soldiers who fought and continue to fight for our American flag are being blatantly disrespected. The protestors say this is all in the name of racial justice; I believe it’s all in the name of irreverence. Yes, the United States deals with racism and it is an important issue, one that is difficult to tackle. However, I feel extremely compelled to argue that the Founding Fathers would be disappointed in our dwindling patriotism. The battles on the island of lwo Jima, the beaches of Normandy, and every location where a U.S. casualty has ever taken place were more than just battles you can choose to stand or kneel for: They were defining moments in our country’s history that deserve to be given the utmost respect from anyone who has ever been blessed with the opportunity to live in this “land of the free”. The Founders themselves took place in monumental battles for the United States. They fought and died for the stars and stripes, so it doesn’t make sense that they would support the disrespect of our country’s most sacred symbol. The flag should be saluted, not stomped on, and our reverence toward it should not waver even when there are problems within our borders.
Right now, I have to admit that this is not the country the Founding Fathers envisioned, but I will forever hold firm when I say that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Not many countries besides America can say that their youngest generation has the power to vote, petition their leaders, and change the world. That’s the greatest part about the USA. God Bless America, its Founding Fathers, and the people who continue to make it the best country in the world.