Three fifth-graders won the Carson Sertoma National Heritage "I am an American" essay contest. Camilla Dudley, from Seeliger Elementary School, took first and won a $200 savings bond. Hillary Lundin, also from Seeliger, won second and received a $100 savings bond. Justin Stevens, from Fritsch, won third and was awarded a $50 bond.
Their essays are listed below. The Sertomans seek fifth-graders every year to enter the contest. Fifth-graders study the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Camilla Dudley's essay:
I am an American. I am so glad that America is free. I'm glad that I'm able to fly a kite or sleep in on Saturday or go to Utah to visit my cousins for a holiday. I'm glad that I can go to school and say what I think and worship in the church where I want to worship. There are lots of great things about being an American. I am going to tell you about the rights that I enjoy and what I love about living in America and what I think about America's future.
I am an American. I have many rights and privileges. I am thankful for them. Perhaps if I lived somewhere else it would not be the same. I have freedom of religion. I can pray when I want to pray. I have the right to stand up for what I believe in. I have the right to vote for who I want to vote for. I can go to college and choose the path I want to take.
I am an American. I love being an American. When I travel to other states - even though people are different and food is different and the scenery is different, one thing is the same: We are all Americans. It doesn't matter about the color of our skin or where we work or live - We all have the same freedoms.
I am an American. I love the songs that we sing about our country. The Star Spangled Banner, You're a Grand Old Flag, My Country 'Tis of Thee, God Bless America. America is a good country and has done many brave things and when I sing songs about my country I feel proud.
I am an American. America is at war in Iraq. I really don't like war - and I know other people don't either. But America is free and freedom should be protected. And everyone who lives on the earth should enjoy the same basic freedoms that we enjoy. They should have the blessing of freedom in Iraq. So I am proud of our soldiers who stand for freedom.
I am an American. We have some things to work on in our country. We need to be kinder to each other and take better care of things. But American are good and we do good things. Richard Nixon said, "We must always remembers that America is a great nation today not because of what government did for people but because of what people did for themselves and for one another." We are Americans. We are free to make choices. We can choose to make our country better and stronger.
I am an American.
Hillary Lundin's essay:
What does being an American mean? For me, being an American means I have many privileges. I have the freedom to work, worship or live as I wish. When I am 18 years old, I will be able to vote in all the elections, like my parents do. Elections are one of the most important practices of democracy, which means that a government should be, "of the people, by the people and for the people." Local elections are held on the first Tuesday in November when all the American rich and poor are allowed to have their say.
I have freedom of speech, I can speak my ideas freely with feeling and thought because I am free to do so without being asked not to. I am free, strong and cannot be stopped. I can choose my own religion and I can go to school and feel safe. I have my own beliefs and I will not follow the crowd. I will and can be my own person.
Being an American is something we shouldn't take lightly. We need to recognize and appreciate all the blessings and constitutional rights that we have as the American people. The Constitution is the set of laws and ideas for the United States of America, it was written in 1787 and it still guides our nation today. If we obey these laws we basically have the right to do as we please.
There are many symbols that can remind us of the freedom that we as Americans have. For example, the Statue of Liberty, which stands in the New York Harbor. The United States flag, which has 13 red-and-white stripes, one for each of the original colonies. And there are 50 stars on the flag, one for each state. We also have the Liberty Bell, which is located in Philadelphia. It was rung in 1776 to announce a public reading of the Declaration of Independence.
We also celebrate holidays, such as, Independence Day, which is on Fourth of July. And Veterans Day, which we honor in November, to remind us of the people who served our country in the armed forces. Many people gave their lives fighting for the United States of America.
I am proud to be an American. Being an American is great.
Justin Steven's essay:
How sweet you are
Letting every race and color be free
How cool you can be
Protecting your people from sea to sea
Terrorists may hurt us but we'll never give in
Liberty is the key to the world peace till the end
America how you let your people have voice
And how we all get to have a choice
In what we say and do
And what we think about me and you
America you are such a great place
With your wide open space
Filled with honor and grace
Let us all sing
As the freedom bell rings
Hip hip hooray hip hip hooray
For the good old USA