First Place Winner,
Veteran's Day Essay Contest,
November 2000

Veteran's Day

by Mark Garcia
Lockhart High School

    Herbert Clark Hoover once said, "Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow, and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war." These words ring as clearly in my head as the bell of liberty rang for this very nation many years ago. Everything that I hold dear: my family, my friends, my life, would be non-existent or greatly altered had the veterans not risked their lives in the name of freedom. It is for this reason and more that Veteran' s Day holds the importance to me that it does.

    It was a hot day and the sun beats down upon the soldiers as they set foot upon the beach of the enemy. Many of the young men were shot on the spot not even granted the time to set foot upon the shore from their boats. As they sprinted across the beach to get to a sheltered area, more fell at the mercy of the German machine gunner. Some of these soldiers were young men, no older than I and have already had their life stripped away from them. This ultimate sacrifice for the good of man-kind was made by the brave men who fought not just for the good of the planet, or of the nation, but for each and every person that inhabits this great nation today. Each day that I am alive, I cherish that gift of freedom, and in remembrance of these men, I offer my thanks and gratitude. Had they not gone fearlessly to war for the things that they held most dear to their hearts, then there is a chance that many children, myself included, would not have been born. Even if we had been born, there is the chance that we would have been ruled viciously by the hand of Adolf Hitler, or some other power-hungry leader.

    War. A three letter that is, sadly, one of the most determining factors of the history of all of the nations worldwide. This is the word that devoured so many young souls and shed the blood of the nations, not just in world wars, but in the civil wars of each nation as well. It might be thought that since there has been no major war affecting the well-being of this nation since I have been alive, that I would be ignorant to the emotions and appreciation to those who risked their lives so that I might take my first breath. This is a false generalization, though. Every breath that I breathe, I thank God for allowing me to be born an American. I thank him for helping America and the allies to win the war against Germany and the Japanese. Everyday, ideas and thoughts flood my head of how different life would be for me if I lived in a country ruled by a communistic government. Then my mind pleads for sanctuary, as I muse upon the thought of being in a country where a person is degraded or slaughtered for being different from what the ruling population considers normal.

      Veteran's Day is not just a day that is celebrated to commemorate those who fought that war so valiantly, but it is also a day for me to focus upon what they fought for. Freedom is a thing that many people residing in the United States of America take for granted. I cherish the gift. Every day that I am presented with a decision to make, whether or not I make the right decision, I am thankful that I even possess the choice to make the decision. Some of the choices that I have made, and that I will make in the future will be life altering. I am grateful that I live in a country where it is a right granted to the people to make the decisions that will mold their lives. I am forever in debt and thankful to those who risked their lives, and to those who lost s6me one important, some one they held dear so that I could make the decisions that I now make freely.

    When Veteran's Day is upon the nation and I read about a situation in which veterans were not recognized or were not honored, I am filled with sorrow. This nation would not be near as great as it is now had these brave young men and women that some call grandmother or grandfather, mother or father, not risked their lives for it. Where would this place be if these heroes and heroines of their day had ignored the service to their country?  Surely, the nation would have perished in unimaginably horrible ways. I think of Veteran's Day as a day of remembrance. On this some times overlooked day of thanks, I praise the Lord most high not only for blessing me with the life I live, but also for blessing me with the country that I live in. No where else is there a country with as much pride, dignity, and honor as America. Nor is there any place that has people who are willing to risk so much, if not everything that they hold close to their hearts, so that their fellow country men, acquaintance or stranger, can continue to taste the sweet sense of freedom and liberty.

 Winning Essays
Red Writing Room