In connection with the Sertoma's national "Freedom and Democracy" program, the Carson Sertoma invites fifth-grade students to take part in an annual essay contest.
Students can compete for awards while studying about the importance of the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of the rights and privileges we enjoy as Americans.
The winner's of this year's contest are:
First place: Jessica Peterson, Seeliger Elementary School
Second place: Amanda Gordon, Mark Twain Elementary School
Third place: Destiny Garrett, Empire Elementary School
The first-place winner received a $200 savings bond, second-place received a $100 savings bond and the third-place winner received a $50 U.S. savings bond.
I Am An American
By Jessica Peterson
Americans have many rights, freedoms and privileges. The basis for our way of life is stated in the Declaration of Independence. It says all men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The belief in these rights allow all Americans many privileges and freedoms.
I am glad that I, as an American, have many privileges. I'm glad I live in America because I have so many freedoms. People in other countries aren't so fortunate. They have to obey everything their leader says or they will be punished. Some of the rights I enjoy are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, protection of myself and my property and protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
Freedom of religion means that I am able to become part of any religion. I can follow my beliefs and choose the religion that suits me. I claim the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of my own conscience. I am able to worship how, where or when I may.
Freedom of speech means that I am able to say anything I want, when I want to, and how I want to within reason. There are punishments for bad language and threats. I can make my opinions known without the threat of discipline.
People are not allowed to search my house without a reasonable cause. The place I live should be protected. My home should be a place of safety and a haven from the world. This is a right I enjoy as an American.
The Bill of Rights states that no one should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. This means the government can't take my life away, lock me up, or take away my property for no reason. I am protected. Cruel or unusual punishment cannot be inflicted upon me.
In my school choir we recently sang a song written by Lee Greenwood. The words stuck with me and reminded me how fortunate I am to live in America. The song goes like this:
From the lakes of Minnesota
to the hills of Tennessee
'Cross the plains of Texas
from sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston
from New York to L.A.,
Well there's pride in every American heart
and it's time to stand and say:
That I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I'll gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.
I am proud to be an American, and I am glad that I have my rights, freedoms and privileges. I am profoundly grateful that I live in America.
I Am An American
By Amanda Gordon
Mark Twain Elementary
Do you know how important it is to be free? I want to tell you three big freedoms we have here in America that some countries don't have. The three major freedoms are...religion, families and speech.
To have your own religion is a blessing to every American. You have the right to be any religion you want. You don't have to be Catholic, Jewish or Christian. We can worship who or what we want!
When you are an American you can have as many children as you want. You are allowed to marry whom you want. In other countries you have to marry whom you are told to marry and have as many kids as you are told.
If you are an American you should be grateful. As an American you have freedom of speech. You have the right to stand up for what you believe in and not be ashamed of it. You can say what you want to say. You are free. You are American. In other countries they don't have the right to stand up for what they believe in. If they do they might get beaten.
I'm proud to be an American because I have the freedom to choose my own religion, have and belong to a family and the freedom to speak my own mind. Those are three of the many freedoms that I am proud of.
What freedoms are you proud of?
I Am An American
By Destiny Garrett
Being an American is wonderful because of the rights and freedoms that people of the United States enjoy. One of the privileges that you get is to vote. A long time ago women could not vote. Now they are able to. Americans also get to learn how to read and write.
We also have the freedom to own guns. It is an amendment that we can own guns. We also can speak whenever we want. Going along with that, we have the right to watch anything we want to on TV. Americans also get to pick their husband and wife. Some people can't do that in other countries. Their parents force them to marry the person they picked.
We also have the right to wear anything we want. Americans also get the privilege to refuse quartering of soldiers. That means we do not have to let a soldier live in our home. One other great privilege we get is the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. That means you can say anything about city officials. Americans also get the right to not have unreasonable searches and seizures which is to have a cop just start searching your bag or personal property. The cop has to have the right papers to be able to search your personal property.
American get a lot of rights and freedoms. It is great to live in America. In some other countries, you don't get rights and freedoms. That is why being an American is great! I'm proud to be an American.