Local winners have been announced in the 2019 VFW Voice of Democracy Contest sponsored by Westby Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8021. The theme of this year’s competition was “What Makes America Great.” The contest was open to all students in grades 9 through 12 including home-schooled students. This is a national contest, where the national winner receives a $30,000 college scholarship. There is a total of $153,000 in college scholarships awarded annually to state and national winners. Over 200 Westby High School students entered the contest.
Isabella Nedland, an 11th-grader at Westby Area High School won first place and received a $100 prize and plaque. She is the daughter of Brent and Chelsy Nedland of Westby.
What Makes America Great
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People have immigrated to America for hundreds of years to escape troubles in their old countries. While they had multiple nations they could have chosen to start their new lives in, they chose America; this magnifies the world’s opinion of the United States: it is a wonderful place to call home. This also poses a question: what made people want to come to America? What made — and still makes America so great today? The answer is simple: diversity, resilience, and patriotism.
The first reason why America is so great is its diversity. Every citizen, every American, has heritage from other countries. For example, I am of Irish and Norwegian descent. Because people came in large waves, especially early on in the country’s existence, America is a country quite literally built by immigrants. As a result, people will find certain towns or areas celebrating Oktoberfest, Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, Syttende Mai, and many other events. Because America is free, citizens do not have to be concerned about being persecuted for their religion, gender, ethnicity, color, or political viewpoint. Differences are accepted — even encouraged! Americans are incredibly fortunate to be able to experience different cultures, learn different viewpoints, and celebrate their individuality.
The second reason why America is so great is its resilience. We are able to bounce back from hard times. An excellent example is the Great Depression: a time when the economy was in shambles. There was a point when men, women, and children were homeless, dying of disease, and starving. Through hard work, the U.S. worked its way back up to prosperity, and by the 1960s, America was once again a world powerhouse. Another example of resilience is the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It would have been so easy for the nation’s leaders to fall into a state of complete panic, but they did their best to stay calm and make well-thought-out decisions. All throughout America, people were working to make America a safer place while mourning the senseless loss of lives. In this demanding situation, America united, powered through, and became a stronger country.
The last reason why America is so great is its citizens’ renowned patriotism. Throughout their daily lives, they exhibit frequent patriotism. For example, at sporting events the “Star Spangled Banner” is played and at the beginning of the school day, students and staff pledge their allegiance to the flag — the flag that is so proudly displayed on the fronts of many homes. We also go all-out for the Fourth of July: throwing parties, dressing up, and reflecting on our country. Most importantly, America is known for its proud men and women who volunteer for their nation’s military. They are willing to put themselves in danger to defend their country’s honor and citizens. These Americans go above and beyond their civic duties and are the bravest and most deserving of us all.
In this modern world, we are often focused on every little negative occurrence on the news, so it is incredibly easy to forget about how blessed we all are to live in America. Because most citizens were born on American soil, they often take their country for granted. Around the world, many people dream of all the privileges we have. Americans need to take time to appreciate the fact that they can call America, the diverse, resilient, patriotic, and great country, their home.