LHS Senior answers freedom’s challenge


By Clay Culpepper

Flags wave, people shout and clap, as they watch heroes leave for distant shores. The famed American eagle soars in each of their hearts. They are excited, proud, and full of patriotic pride. People watch from their living rooms as the young men and women of their country march out to defend freedom across the world

; a nation is moved, and hearts soar, proudly displaying America”s colors.
But does that eagle live a year later?
For some, he remains ever watchful and attentive. But for others, he slumps, feathers wilted and beak split. They shun him, say that his glory is gone, that he is not worth fighting for.
How many wars have American people turned against? How many wars have American people forgotten about their troops, the very people who protect their freedom? The answer is all of them. Even in America”s first war, some believed British control was better. Be it few or many, there are always people who are against fighting for what is right, and others, sadly, simply do not care.
This is freedom”s challenge; the apathetic, the lackluster, and the non-believers; non-believers of freedom, justice and pride. How does that eagle soar one day, then crash a year later?
I have more family members who have fought for American freedom than I can name; a grandfather, two uncles, a cousin, and numerous second cousins. How do I never forget about them? What keeps that eagle flying proud in my heart for them and everyone they fight alongside? For me, that is easy; pride and love. I am proud of my family and every single soldier that fights for freedom and I love the freedom they protect. But what can I do to make sure that eagle flies on his wings of pride and love into the hearts of all Americans, to combat that greatest foe of freedom, apathy?
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” The American people need these words; they need to remember that their freedom is not free, and that sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in.
That is freedom”s greatest challenge; the oblivious, those who have never felt passion well up in their hearts for a cause. They need that same eagle that brings courage to soldiers, who inspires leaders to do what is right, and who allows families to send their loved ones far away, not knowing if they will ever come back.
That is my goal; to bring that passion for country into the hearts of those who have never felt it. To put the pride I feel when I look at my family, at the flag, and at the heroes in my community into the hearts of the inert.
I have to ask myself, how can I do this? How can I put that American pride into hearts that do not care? By writing this speech; by taking advantage of every opportunity available to profess those feelings to all who can hear, in the hope that even one heart may be moved, in the hope that even one heart may feel that swelling of American pride as their own eagle is rekindled, to soar in pride and vanquish that apathy that has crept into the hearts of too many people. That is what I must do if I am to stand up to freedom”s challenge, to stay ever thankful and mindful of my country, of the people who make freedom possible, and to encourage and inspire those who lack that feeling of pride and appreciation.

Editor”s note: Culpepper”s essay earned him first place in the local Voice of Democracy essay contest. His work advanced to the regional level, where he earned second place. Culpepper received a $500 scholarship for his efforts.


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