On Monday, Nov. 11, Veteran Day, Cedaredge High School held its annual Veterans Day assembly.

The assembly included six students reading their competition-winning essays for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW, sponsored middle school contest, the Patriot Pen Essay and the high school contest, the Voice of Democracy Essay.

In first place for the Voice of Democracy Essay was Kiele Rains, with Ashlyn Anderson in second and Joshua Jenkins in third.

In first place for the Patriot Pen Essay was David Ray Maddox Martinez, with Keaton Sanders in second and Hunter Voss in third.

Below are their essays.

We make


By Kiele Rains

When asked the question, “What makes America great?” I struggled to find a concise answer. I struggled not because America is a landmark of failure, but because I had not thought of why I enjoy my life in America. After thinking about what it would be like to live in another country, I found my answer. The promise of being able to forge my future and make a difference is why I would choose America over any country. America is a great country due to the individual rights it guarantees its citizens, its ability to grow and adapt, and the freedom its citizens fought and sacrificed their lives for. America is a wonderful country with a promising future.

The Bill of Rights prevents Congress from passing laws that abridge the freedom of speech and press, and the right of the people to peacefully assemble. Many countries do not guarantee these rights to citizens. Starting at the end of 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo denied its citizens internet access from Dec. 31 through Jan. 20 (Jazeera). Imagine the chaos that would ensue if that happened in America. Teachers would have to change their teaching methods, hospitals would struggle to communicate and keep track of patient information, and dispatch centers would become inoperable.

The American Constitution ensures that Congress will not pass laws that impede access to information and communication. American citizens are also granted the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. The ability to peacefully assemble and petition for a redress of grievances allows people to make the changes they want to see in America.

For over 240 years America has adapted and changed. When America was first founded, slavery, although controversial, was commonplace. On Jan. 31, 1865, the 13th amendment to the Constitution banned slavery and involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crimes. Several years later, the 14th amendment was implemented and prevented the United States government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race, religion or previous condition of servitude. America was designed to evolve along with the ideals of its citizens. Over the decades our ideas and beliefs have changed and made our country better. America started as 13 states loosely connected by the Articles of Confederation. It has since evolved into a country of 50 states united not only by their constitution but by their ideals and hunger for opportunity. The desire for equal opportunity has propelled America forward. No longer is America a land of oppression claiming to be the land of the free.

Freedom is powerful. Suppressive regimes and dictators rule 50 nations out of the 195 that exist today. Impeding the citizens’ freedoms and attempts to better themselves weakens the country. In America, citizens are free to decide their lives and make an impact. Children are encouraged to follow their dreams and rewrite the future; Americans are free to improve themselves and the world. When Americans decide something needs done, they have the power to work towards that change. The people are free to decide what they sell and what information they access. America grants its citizens the freedom to vote on laws, invent new things, explore interesting topics and communicate with each other. The people are not bound by strict laws and forced into specific roles that the government thinks is beneficial. America is great because it allows its people to be great.

People are what comprise America, and if the people are great, then it too will be great. Farmers, bakers, teachers, politicians, businessmen and soldiers are the kinds of people that make America. Everyday people that use their freedom to make this world better are the reason America is great. The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, The United States Constitution, and all the amendments to the constitution were made by citizens who demanded a better life not only for themselves but for everyone. Individual freedoms and the ability to grow have formed America and its laws. We are what makes America great.

Kiele Rains is the first place winner of the Voice of Democracy Essay (high school competition).

What makes

America great

By David Martinez

As gunfire plagued the Battle of Saratoga, many wondered about the fate of the British colonists fighting for independence. A few years after this battle, they got their answer when the colonists gained independence. Once the dust settled around the battlefield, and the British had retreated, they had left the beginnings of a new country in their wake. No one had any idea that the colonies would unite to become a world superpower. The fight for our rights still shows in the average American’s spirit today. This country’s greatness is not because of our powerful weapons or massive economy; America is great because of the people who make up its union.

This new country, still rattled from the war, had to make a very important decision. Who would lead this new country? The first priority of the Founding Fathers as they wrote the Constitution was to prevent any one man or group from gaining absolute power. They were determined to keep the power in the hands of the people. The first three words of the Constitution sum up this American ideal perfectly, “We the People.” The government is not supposed to take all control from the people, it is supposed to represent the people. Throughout history, many empires have fallen because of corrupt leaders and governments that had no respect for the rights of their people. These are all things that the Founding Fathers had in mind during the creation of the Constitution that still regulates our government today.

When constructing the Constitution the Founding Fathers added arguably the most important component, the ability to amend it. They knew as time went on the people’s wants and needs would change, that the Constitution would need to provide for and adapt to these changes, in order to achieve their goal of keeping the peace and happiness of the union intact. Just as the founders provided a means of replacing a president who abuses the office, they also provided means for amending the Constitution itself when the people find it necessary.

The great thing about America is that the people who ultimately decide the fate of this country are not the select few who are elected but the citizens themselves. The people who are asked to abide by the laws are the people who have the power to create them. Me, you, our neighbors, and our fellow citizens: we are the people who make this country great.

David Martinez is the first place winner of the Patriot’s Pen Essay (middle school competition).

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