God Flag And Country School Essays Papers


Presented here are a some essays that I have assembled for all of you with a patriotic heart. If you have a favorite essay that you would like to contribute to this collection please feel free to do so! Be sure to include the title & author (if known) to Contact Us.
Thank You!

If one asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him: It means just what Concord and Lexington meant, what Bunker Hill meant. It means the whole glorious Revolutionary War. It means all that the Declaration of Independence meant. It means all that the Constitution of our people, organizing for justice, for liberty and for happiness, meant.

Under this banner rode Washington and his armies. Before it Burgoyne laid down his arms. It waved on the highlands at West Point. When Arnold would have surrendered these valuable fortresses and precious legacies, his night was turned into day and his treachery was driven away by beams of light from this starry banner.

It cheered our army, driven out from around New York, and in their painful pilgrimages through New Jersey. This banner streamed in light over the soldiers' heads at Valley Forge and at Morristown. It crossed the waters rolling with ice at Trenton, and when its stars gleamed in the morning with a victory, a new day of hope dawned on the despondency of this nation.

Our Flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings. Beginning with the Colonies, and coming down to our time, in its sacred heraldry, in its glorious insignia, it has gathered and stored chiefly this supreme idea: divine right of liberty in man. Every color means liberty; every thread means liberty; every form of star and beam or stripe of light means liberty - not lawlessness, but organized, institutional liberty - liberty through law, and laws for liberty!

This American Flag was the safeguard of liberty. Not an atom of crown was allowed to go into its insignia. Not a symbol of authority in the ruler was permitted to go into it. It was an ordinance of liberty by the people, for the people. That it meant, that it means, and, by the blessing of God, that it shall mean to the end of time!

[Note: From the Nov.-Dec. 1994 National Flag Foundations "Standard Bearer" Magazine.
This article remains the copyrighted material of the National Flag Foundation and is presented here by permission.]

As Vice President and as a Senator and member of Congress before that, I have visited dozens of foreign countries.

Believe me when I say I have seen lots of flags. Every country in the world flies flags on ceremonial occasions, such as the arrival of dignitaries on official trips.

But something sets Americans apart. We don't just put out the flag for important visitors, or on solemn occasions, and then put it away. Ordinary Americans, by the millions, revere our flag and display it every day.

We fly it from tall poles in front of our businesses, from short poles in our front yards, from balcony railings in our condominium complexes. We pin the flag on our jacket lapels and paste it to the windows of our cars and trucks.

As soon as our toddlers can hold a little stick in their tiny fists, we give them Old Glory to wave at the Fourth of July parade. And at life's end, we drape the caskets of our fallen patriots with the Stars and Stripes.

This proud display of, and devotion to, the symbol of our nation is uniquely American. It is how we reaffirm the fact that we are indeed "one nation" and that whatever our other differences, there are core values Americans hold in common: a belief in the dignity of the individual, a love of liberty, and a commitment to government of, for, and by the people.

By displaying the flag, we express our gratitude to the generations past who fought and died for this country, and we remind ourselves of our obligation to preserve for generations to come the freedom that others won for us.

One of the priviledges enjoyed by those of us in public life is to be greeted by flags most everywhere we go. This simple expression of patriotism is often a welcome relief from the cynicism of elites in our nation's capital who are too "sophisticated" to be caught waving a flag.

My aquaintances in the major media might find this hard to believe, but there's nothing like seeing proud faces of youngsters reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to remind you of the high ideals that first led you to seek elected office.

I realize that the temper of our times is increasingly cynical, that Americans in growing numbers raise a skeptical eyebrow upon hearing the words "high ideals" and "elected office" in the same breath.

If you read the same newspaper stores I do, then you have seen the public opinion polls showing in what low repute we now hold the major branches of government.

I must admit there are days when I understand those feelings. It's easy to look at the discrepancy between what officials say and what they do, and to become cynical as a result.

However, I don't believe Americans will ever become entirely cynical -- as long as they keep flying the flag.

As a symbol of our republic and its institutions, our link to this country's past and to its future, the flag helps us keep in mind that the Founding Fathers created a durable and admirable system of government.

The founders didn't pretend to guarantee that only honorable men and women would hold office. In fact, they assumed the opposite -- and created a system of checks and balances as insurance against the imperfect politicians they knew would always exist.

In other parts of the world, people tend to find Americans' love of the flag overly sentimental. I believe that our system of government, for all its occasional flaws, is still the finest in the world.

Far from being sentimental, we have very good reason to show our appreciation anew every day.

This country was not built by men who relied on somebody else to take care of them. It was built by men who relied on themselves, who dared to shape their own lives, who had enough courage to blaze new trails with enough confidence in themselves to take the necessary risks.

This self-reliance is our American legacy. It is the secret of that something which stamped Americans as Americans. Some call it individual initiative, others backbone. But whatever it is called, it is a precious ingredient in our national character, one which we must not lose.

The time has come for us to re-establish the rights for which we stand, to re-assert our inalienable rights to human dignity, self-respect, self-reliance—to be again the kind of people who once made America great.

Such a crusade for renewed independence will require a succession of inspired leaders, leaders in spirit and in knowledge of the problem, not just men with political power, but men who are militantly for the distinctive way of life that was America. We are likely to find such leaders only among those that promote self-reliance and who practice it with strict devotion and understanding.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?

Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land.

Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love?

Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years.

Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne!

In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free -- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending -- if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained -- we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction?

Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!

The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death.

On the night of Good Friday, 1865, he left us to join a blessed procession, in neither doubt nor fear, but his soul does indeed go marching on. For this was the Bible-reading lad come out of wilderness, following a prairie star, filled with wonder at the world and its Maker, who all his life, boy and man, not only knew the Twenty-third Psalm but, more importantly, knew the Shepherd.

Now it seems possible that we shall never see his like again. This is a sobering thought, but it should be a kindling one, for upon us now, as a people and a party, has been laid perhaps the greatest responsibility any nation was ever asked to shoulder, yet certainly not greater than we can bear.

Our days are no longer than were Lincoln's, our nights are no darker, and if there is any difference between his time and this it lies in the tremendous advantage that is ours, that he stood so tall before us. In such a time and at such a moment we surely can say then, from hopeful, brimful hearts:

We are standing, Father Abraham, devoted millions strong, firm in the faith that was yours and is ours, secure in the conviction bequeathed by you to us that right does make might and that if we but dare to do our duty as we understand it, we shall not only survive
--we shall prevail.

What's a flag? What's the love of country for which it stands? Maybe it begins with love of the land itself. It is the fog rolling in with the tide at Eastport, or through the Golden Gate and among the towers of San Francisco. It is the sun coming up behind the White Mountains, over the Green, throwing a shining glory on Lake Champlain and above the Adirondacks. It is the storied Mississippi rolling swift and muddy past St. Louis, rolling past Cairo, pouring down past the levees of New Orleans. It is lazy noontide in the pines of Carolina, it is a sea of wheat rippling in Western Kansas, it is the San Francisco peaks far north across the glowing nakedness of Arizona, it is the Grand Canyon and a little stream coming down out of a New England ridge, in which are trout.

It is men at work. It is the storm-tossed fishermen coming into Gloucester and Provincetown and Astoria. It is the farmer riding his great machine in the dust of harvest, the dairyman going to the barn before sunrise, the lineman mending the broken wire, the miner drilling for the blast. It is the servants of fire in the murky splendor of Pittsburgh, between the Allegheny and the Monongahela, the trucks rumbling through the night, the locomotive engineer bringing the train in on time, the pilot in the clouds, the riveter running along the beam a hundred feet in the air. It is the clerk in the office, the housewife doing the dishes and sending the children off to school. It is the teacher, doctor and parson tending and helping, body and soul, for small reward.

It is small things remembered, the little corners of the land, the houses, the people that each one loves. We love our country because there was a little tree on a hill, and grass thereon, and a sweet valley below; because the hurdy-gurdy man came along on a sunny morning in a city street; because a beach or a farm or a lane or a house that might not seem much to others were once, for each of us, made magic. It is voices that are remembered only, no longer heard. It is parents, friends, the lazy chat of street and store and office, and the ease of mind that makes life tranquil. It is Summer and Winter, rain and sun and storms. These are flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, blood of our blood, a lasting part of what we are, each of us and all of us together.

It is stories told. It is the Pilgrims dying in their first dreadful Winter. It is the minute man standing his ground at Concord Bridge, and dying there. It is the army in rags, sick, freezing, starving at Valley Forge. It is the wagons and the men on foot going westward over Cumberland Gap, floating down the great rivers, rolling over the great plains. It is the settler hacking fiercely at the primeval forest on his new, his own lands. It is Thoreau at Walden Pond, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and Lee riding home from Appomattox. It is corruption and disgrace, answered always by men who would not let the flag lie in the dust, who have stood up in every generation to fight for the old ideals and the old rights, at risk of ruin or of life itself.

It is a great multitude of people on pilgrimage, common and ordinary people, charged with the usual human failings, yet filled with such a hope as never caught the imaginations and the hearts of any nation on earth before. The hope of liberty. The hope of justice. The hope of a land in which a man can stand straight, without fear, without rancor.

The land and the people and the flag, the land a continent, the people of every race, the flag a symbol of what humanity may aspire to when the wars are over and the barriers are down: to these each generation must be dedicated and consecrated anew, to defend with life itself, if need be, but, above all, in friendliness, in hope, in courage, to live for.

I am an American: That's the way we put it, simply, without any swagger, without any brag, in those four plain words.

We speak them softly, just to ourselves.

We roll them on the tongue, touching every syllable, getting the feel of them, the enduring flavor.

We speak them humbly, thankfully, reverently: I am an American.

They are more than words, really. They are the sum of the lives of a vast multitude of men and women and wide-eyed children.

They are a manifesto to mankind; speak those four words anywhere in the world -- yes, anywhere -- and those who hear will recognize their meaning.

They are a pledge. A pledge that stems from a document which says: "When in the course of human events," and goes on from there.

A pledge to those who dreamed that dream before it was set to paper, to those who have lived it since, and died for it.

Those words are a covenant with a great host of plain Americans, Americans who put their share of meaning into them.

Listen, and you can hear the voices echoing through them, words that sprang white-hot from bloody lips, scornful lips, lips a tremble with human pity:

"Don't give up the ship! Fight her till she dies... Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead! . . . Do you want to live forever? . . . Don't cheer, boys; the poor devils are dying."

Laughing words, June-warm words, words cold as January ice:

"Root, hog, or die. .. I've come from Alabama with my banjo. . . Pike's Peak or bust! . . . Busted, by God! . . . When you say that, smile.... Wait till you see the whites of their eyes.... With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right.... I am not a Virginian, but an American."

You can hear men in assembly summoned, there in Philadelphia, hear the scratch of their quills as they wrote words for the hour and produced a document for the ages.

You can hear them demanding guarantees for which they suffered through the hell of war, hear a Yankee voice intoning the text of ten brief amendments.

You can hear the slow cadences of a gaunt and weary man at Gettysburg, dedicating not a cemetery, but a nation.

You can hear those echoes as you walk along the streets, hear them in the rumble of traffic; you can hear them as you stand at the lathe, in the roaring factory; hear them in the clack of train wheels, in the drumming throb of the air liner; hear them in the corn fields and in the big woods and in the mine pits and the oil fields.

But they aren't words any longer; they're a way of life, a pattern of living.

They're the dawn that brings another day in which to get on the job.

They're the noon whistle, with a chance to get the kinks out of your back, to get a bowl of soup, a plate of beans, a cup of coffee into your belly.

They're evening, with another day's work done; supper with the wife and kids; a movie, or the radio, or the newspaper or a magazine -- and no Gestapo snooping at the door and threatening to kick your teeth in.

They are a pattern of life as lived by a free people, freedom that has its roots in rights and obligations:

The right to go to a church with a cross or a star or a dome or a steeple, or not to go to any church at all; and the obligation to respect others in that same right.

The right to harangue on a street corner, to hire a hall and shout your opinions till your tonsils are worn to a frazzle; and the obligation to curb your tongue now and then.

The right to go to school, to learn a trade, to enter a profession, to earn an honest living; and the obligation to do an honest day's work.

The right to put your side of the argument in the hands of a jury; and the obligation to abide by the laws that you and your delegates have written in the statute books.

The right to choose who shall run our government for us, the right to a secret vote that counts just as much as the next fellow's in the final tally; and the obligation to use that right, and guard it and keep it clean.

The right to hope, to dream, to pray; the obligation to serve.

These are some of the meanings of those four words, meanings we don't often stop to tally up or even list.

Only in the stillness of a moonless night, or in the quiet of a Sunday afternoon, or in the thin dawn of a new day, when our world is close about us, do they rise up in our memories and stir in our sentient hearts.

Only then? That is not wholly so -- not today!

For today we are drilling holes and driving rivets, shaping barrels and loading shells, fitting wings and welding hulls,

And we are remembering Wake Island, and Bataan, and Corregidor, and Hong Kong and Singapore and Batavia;

We are remembering Warsaw and Rotterdam and Rouen and Coventry.

Remembering, and muttering with each rivet driven home: "There's another one for remembrance!"

They're plain words, those four. Simple words.

You could write them on your thumbnail, if you chose, Or you could sweep them all across the sky, horizon to horizon.

You could grave them on stone, you could carve them on the mountain ranges.

You could sing them, to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."

But you needn't. You needn't do any of those things, For those words are graven in the hearts of 130,000,00 people, they are familiar to 130,000,000 tongues, every sound and every syllable.

But when we speak them we speak them softly, proudly, gratefully:

I am an American.

We do honor to the stars and stripes as the emblem of our country and the symbol of all that our patriotism means.

We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth. It represents our peace and security, our civil and political liberty, our freedom of religious worship, our family, our friends, our home. We see it in the great multitude of blessings, of rights and privileges that make up our country.

But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights, we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done. A yearly contemplation of our flag strengthens and purifies the national conscience.

In response to a request from England for a description of Col. George Washington, his aide-de-camp, John Francis Mercer, wrote:

"He may be described as being as straight as an Indian, measuring six feet two inches in his stockings and weighing 175 pounds when he took his seat in the House of Burgesses in 1759. His frame is padded with well developed muscles, indicating great strength. His bones and joints are large, as are his feet and hands.

"He is wide shouldered, but has not a deep or round chest; is neat waisted, but is broad across the hips, and has rather long legs and arms. His head is well shaped though not large, but is gracefully poised on a superb neck. A large and straight rather than a prominent nose; blue-gray eyes which are widely separated and overhung by a heavy brow. His face is long rather than broad, with high round cheek bones, and terminates in a good firm chin. He has a clear though rather colorless pale skin, which burns with the sun. A pleasing, benevolent, though a commanding countenance, dark brown hair, which he wears in a cue.

"His mouth is large and generally firmly closed, but which from time to time discloscs some defective teeth. His features are regular and placid, though fiexible and expressivc of deep feeling when moved by emotion."

What strange doubts assail this timid generation of today as it beholds the challenges to both liberty and equality. We seem beset with fear not faith, with doubt not confidence, with compromise not conviction, with dismay not dedication. We are drenched with the literature of fear and doubt. Survival has become the main theme. The fall-out shelter from which the stars of hope and courage cannot be seen has become the symbol of our fears and misgivings.

Are we to become fearful, unworthy legatees in a blessed, united land where the earth is fertile to our every need, where the skills and ingenuity of men are boundless, where the burdens are bearable, where decent living is within the reach of all, and where the genius to produce is unlimited?

Perhaps we have lost our sense of continuity? Perhaps we have forgotten that we move in that same endless stream which began with our forefathers and which will flow on and on to embrace our children and our children's children. If we have, there will have gone with it that sense of individual responsibility which is the last best hope that a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality can long endure.

Comes then the reminder from the man from Illinois. Men died here and men are sleeping here who fought under a July sun that the nation might endure, united, free, tolerant, and devoted to equality. The task was unfinished. It is never quite finished.

I was born an American; I live an American; I shall die an American; and I intend to perform the duties incumbent upon me in that character to the end of my career. I mean to do this with absolute disregard of personal consequences.

What are the personal consequences? What is the individual man, with all the good or evil that may betide him, in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great country, and in the midst of great transactions which concern that country's fate?

Let the consequences be what they will, I am careless. No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffer, or if he fall, in the defense of the liberties and constitution of his country.

The first time I ever saw Mr. Webster was on the 17th of June, 1825, at the laying of the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument. I shall never forget his appearance as he strode across the open area, encircled by some fifty thousand persons—men and women, waiting for the "Orator of the Day," nor the shout that simultaneously burst forth, as he was recognized, carrying up to the skies the name of "Webster!" "Webster!" "Webster!"

It was one of those lovely days in June, when the sun is bright, the air clear, and the breath of nature so sweet and pure as to fill every bosom with a grateful joy in the mere consciousness of existence. There were present long files of soldiers in their holiday attire; there were many associations, with their mottoed banners; there were lodges and grand lodges, in white aprons and blue scarfs; there were miles of citizens from the towns and the country round about; there were two hundred gray-haired men, remnants of the days of the Revolution.

Mr. Webster was in the very zenith of his fame and of his powers.

There was a grandeur in his form, an intelligence in his deep dark eye, a loftiness in his expansive brow, a significance in his arched lip, altogether beyond those of any other human being I ever saw. And these, on the occasion to which I allude, had their full expression and interpretation.

When he came to address the few scarred and time-worn veterans, some forty in number, who had shared in the bloody scene which all had now gathered to commemorate, he paused a moment, and, as he uttered the words "Venerable men," his voice trembled, and I could see a cloud pass over the sea of faces that turned upon the speaker.

He said: "Our poor work may perish, but thine shall endure: this monument may moulder away, the solid ground it rests upon may sink down to the level of the sea; but thy memory shall not fail. Wherever among men a heart shall be found that beats to the transports of patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall claim kindred with thy spirit!"

I have never seen such an effect, from a single passage. Lifted as by inspiration, every breast seemed now to expand, every gaze to turn above, every face to beam with a holy yet exulting enthusiasm. It was the omnipotence of eloquence, which, like the agitated sea, carries a host upon its waves, sinking and swelling with its irresistible undulations.

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The Hartford Courant congratulates the students who participated in the 2005 Annual Veterans Day Poster/Essay Contest. The contest, sponsored in partnership with the CT Veterans Day Parade Committee, invites 6th, 7th and 8th graders in Greater Hartford to convey, in words and pictures, what it means to be a military veteran.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Valerie Stickles
Grade 7, Captain Nathan Hale Middle School, Coventry
2005 Winner

A man boarding a boat,
Waving to his wife,
He may never see her again,
This may end his life.

He feels the boat take off,
He's headed on his way.
His daughter starts to cry,
"Why did Daddy go away?"

His family is getting smaller,
Now they look like ants.
As they disappear,
He gets one last glance.

What is lying ahead for him?
Will he live to tall the tale?
As he approaches the dock,
He hears a soldier wail.

War is horrible, it is death,
Man killing his own brother,
Is that what we're on Earth for?
Just to kill one another?

This many is a veteran,
He made it through it all.
Although he lost an arm,
He still stands strong and tall.

He made it through the terror,
Thinking he would die.
He made it through the killing,
And the late nights when he would cry.

He made it through the missing
His wife and family so,
He made it through not being able
To see his daughter grow.

He sacrificed his life
To protect the USA,
He put himself in danger
Every single day.

When it comes to protection,
Veterans are the key.
This many is a hero,
That's what a veteran means to me.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Steven Apicello
Grade 7
Vernon Center Middle School
2005 Runner-Up

What is a veteran? Is it a soldier, a person in the air force, someone fighting in the marines? That's not what they are to me. They are freedom fighters, answering the call of duty, responding to our prayers, and most importantly that they help fight for our country, the United States of America.

Through the years we have faced many challenges that we will recognize forever. One war that we have never forgotten and never will is the Revolutionary War. In 1861 to 1865 there was another war we will always remember, The Civil War. In our union, we fought with 2,213,363 service members against 600,000 – 1,500,000 confederate soldiers. We also couldn't forget World War 1 and World War II. Still the most terrifying event that changed our lives was September 11, 2001. We pledged every day to our flag, prayed for them, and saluted those who had saved other's lives by giving up theirs. The tragic nightmare will remind us to make our world a better place.

When Francis Scott Key wrote the star spangled banner almost two hundred years ago, he called America "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Those words still stand strong today as they did back then. Throughout our history American soldiers, marines, air force, and coastguards have bravely answered to defend for our freedom and rights. That is why we as Americans should respect our veterans and thank them for what they have done for all of us, and that is why President Dwight D. Eisenhower said these words: "Now therefore I, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, do hereby call upon all citizens to observe Thursday, November 11th as Veteran's Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, on foreign shores to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that there efforts shall not be in vain."

I would like to personally thank the veterans for their bravery and dedication. However I would like to thank my Papa and remember my Papa Nick for their years of service to our country. Thank you!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ashley Enns
Grade 6
Canton Intermediate School
2005 Runner-Up

What it means to be a veteran is to feel the DUTY to protect our country and to fight for what you believe in. It means to LOVE your country enough to sacrifice your life if necessary. It means to have FAITH in God, your country, and your beliefs.

What it means to be a veteran is to risk your life to help others HEAL when they could not do it on their own. It means to be APPRECIATED by the people you have fought for and protected. It means to have HONOR in everything you do and say.

What it means to be a veteran is to take PRIDE in your service to our country. It means to be PROUD you stood for something.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ashley Pinero and Ada Sierra
Grade 6
Pulaski Middle School, New Britain

To me a veteran is someone who loves this country very much. A veteran must love their country in order to leave her or his family for freedom. Not just for their freedom but for all of ours. That is what being a veteran means to me.

What being a veteran means to be is to be brave. To be brave is to stand up, and face your enemy for freedom, protecting your country out of danger, and living in peace. That's what being a veteran means to me.

To be a veteran means to be proud of yourself. A veteran has to be very proud of what they are doing for our country and for us. Why? Because there are many people who want to hurt our country. But, those people who are now joining the military, and our veterans, they are protecting our country from harm. That is what being a veteran means to me.

What being a veteran means to me is to die for this country, to not want this country to be ruled by bad people, and to always protect it. Because if you don't love this country, why would you fight for it? Veterans fight for this country because they love it. They'll do anything for this country, even die for it. That is what being a veteran means to me.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Darianna Gonzalez
Grade 6
Pulaski Middle School, New Britain

Being a veteran means leaving your family. When veterans leave their family they become very sad because they will miss them.

When people first join the military they have their arms and their legs. Veterans, sometimes lose their arms and their legs, and are never the same as they were before.

Veterans usually can't eat or take a bath. At war they get hungry and dirty. But sometimes there is no eating or taking a bath at war.

Veterans don't get paid a lot of money, but they still die saving this country. They die because they love this country, and all of us.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Geround Kelley
Grade 8
Pulaski Middle School, New Britain

I think we all have a lot to thank veterans for. If it had not been for these veterans defending citizens of the United States in past wars, we may not be free right now. These men and women dedicated their lives to our freedom, and this took a great deal of bravery and sacrifice. Many veterans even died, and I have seen on the news where many more are still dying, and families are losing their loved ones. It is very sad that thee people lost their lives, but they knew the risks and felt it was their duty and honor to fight on our behalf.

My definition of a veteran is any man or woman who fought in a war and served for our country. Some people only honor those veterans who have passed on, but I believe all veterans deserve special thanks and recognition. Veterans' Day is the day the United States sets aside for this purpose; however, I believe we should all try to honor veterans as often and as much as we can.

Many of my friends have family members who are veterans, and so do I. My grandfather was a veteran. If only he was alive today, he could help me write this essay and explain to me how he served our country. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before I was born, so I do not know much about his service, but I know he served, and I am proud that he was a veteran.

Women can be veterans, too. My friend's mother served as a nurse in the United States Army. She cared for injured soldiers hurt during the war. We should remember and thank all the women who served our country.

Both of my brothers want to join the Army, and although I don't think I want to, I support their decision, and one day I will be proud to honor them as veterans. This is what I know about veterans, I hope to learn more about them in the future. God bless those who have lost family members who served our country. We thank the veterans and their families for all that they have done.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ajeela Williams
Grade 6
West Middle Elementary School, Hartford

What does it mean to be a veteran? A veteran is a man or woman that use to work in the United States armed services. Veterans have done many wonderful things. They fought for our country and helped us get our freedom. Veterans fought in many deadly battles. Many of them watched as their close friends died in combat. They risked their lives for our so that we could have our rights and freedoms. Due to their courage, we have many freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion. Freedom of speech is when I can say anything I want. If I really wanted to, I could walk outside and yell, "I hate Bush", and no one will or can do anything to me. In other countries people don't have the right to practice freedom of speech or their own religion. Their ruler or President might hang them, chop off their heads, or might even make them stand in a line and shoot them one by one! Veterans fought so we don't have to worry about such awful things. That's why I'm thankful that our country has veterans. Veterans fought so hard to serve our country. When veterans were in battles, many of them got hurt really, really badly. When they got hurt, they got rushed to an emergency room. As soon as they recovered, they went straight back into battle. Veterans tried their hardest to win these battles. Some of them wouldn't have surrendered at all. They would've fought to the death. Every morning, in my class, we all say the Pledge of Allegiance. It is very important to me that we say the Pledge of Allegiance because it shows respect for our country and for our brave veterans. God bless America and God bless our veterans!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Shamiel Samuels
Grade 6
West Middle Elementary School, Hartford

A veteran is a man or woman that has served in the United States armed services. However, being a veteran means so much more than that! A veteran is a well trained person that fought in the army, marines, or air force. They gladly risked their lives to fight against countries that threatened our freedom. It makes me feel happy and comfortable knowing that there are such brave veterans that have fought for our country.

It is important to my class for everyone to say the pledge of allegiance in the morning at 8:10. It shows respect for our country and for the veterans that fought to preserve our freedom. In America we have the privilege of having many freedoms that people in other countries do not. For example, we have freedom of speech and the freedom to practice whatever religion we want. They are the ones that make our world a better place to live in. Veterans are the ones who risked their lives for our freedom, so I think they should get a lot of respect. People in the army can be very stressed and tired of working but they still keep their heads up high and do their best to win every battle they are faced with.

We are so lucky to have very brave veterans because they worked so hard to serve our country. They fought in many hard battles to protect our country which helped us gain our rights and our freedoms. Veterans are hard working people. People should have respect for what they have done. Maybe if people didn't care about the veterans, they wouldn't care about their job and we probably wouldn't have any freedom.

Hardworking, brave, loyal, and unselfish are adjectives that describe what I feel it means to be a veteran.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Moriah Perrett
Grade 6
Andover Elementary School

Whether it is in an office, on a battlefield, or at a switchboard, it takes a hero to be a veteran. Bravery and patriotism are characteristics of veterans. Veterans' Day was created to honor all people who have served, fought, and died for our country and our freedom. People who served in the military and gave their services, risked their lives, and lost their lives for us are all veterans: They deserve our thanks.

When people think of veterans, a word that might come to mind is hero. Soldiers leave their homes, families, and friends to fight for our country and the freedom we believe in so strongly. If a brother, cousin, uncle, or friend gets killed during a battle, veterans keep going. They need to wait until a later time to grieve, cry, and mourn their lost companions. Soldiers endure loss, blistering cold, scorching heat, trench foot, and more. That is a Hero.

Being brave does not mean wearing a red cape, moving faster then a speeding bullet, or having massive muscles; it means doing ones duty, even when it is unpleasant or seemingly unbearable. During an attack or a battle, there may be bombs falling, bullets flying, blood, pain, and the death of soldiers and civilians. It takes bravery to live through that. Years later, when veterans are safely home, nightmarish scenes are often still vivid in their minds. The soldier, the veteran, does not complain. When young men and women enlist in the armed forces, they know the dangers they face. They still enlist and are willing to risk their lives for the freedom of their country because they believe. They feel proud. Soldiers leave home, go overseas, fight for our country, and either die proud or come home proud. That is Bravery.

Veterans are extremely patriotic because they risk their lives in battle for America. Patriotism means a great deal to veterans because they have such a strong love for Lady Liberty, the U.S.A. To go through all of the pressure and loss of war for our country shows they have true patriotism and love for America. Veterans go through numerous hardships and sleepless nights for our freedom. To this day, veterans from World War II remember The Battle of Normandy and how much American blood was spilled that day. They are true patriots in America's history.

Veterans are extraordinarily heroic, brave, and patriotic. They fight for our freedom and our country. They live among us proudly. Veterans love America and all that she stands for dearly.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Loren Madore
Grade 6
Andover Elementary School

In a nursing home, three men sit around me. They are wearing uniforms decorated with badges and pins. They talk to me about the days when they were in the war and protecting our country was their first priority. These men trained for many weeks so that when danger came they would be ready. Each saw things most people would see only in nightmares and were willing to give their lives so we could be free. These men are veterans.

Veterans work very hard so that if they need to go to battle they are prepared. They have to practice for many weeks and train in lots of different situations, on land when they are in the Army and at sea if they are in the Marines. Our veterans are very dedicated and take time away from their families to serve our country. They set good examples to people around the world. When veterans are not on duty, they like to have fun just like any other person. You might see one in the mall or at the movies. Maybe you have a family member who is a veteran.

Some veterans go through the most terrible things that people can experience. They are forced to kill people and even watch friends die. These are pictures most see only in nightmares. Such things make veterans' jobs terrible. Some veterans are nurses or doctors, and they help wounded soldiers. This is a job that is hard to bear.

Some veterans have gone into battle and not come out. One of those veterans was Christopher Hoskins. Christopher was a loving son and brother who died in Iraq along with many other soldiers. I had the privilege to attend his funeral in his hometown of Killingly, Connecticut. Many important people attended, such as government representatives for Connecticut. I even met some of Christopher's elementary school friends. He is very important will be remembered. Christopher paid the ultimate price in defending our country. I live a safe life thanks to his service.

Veterans are extraordinarily important people. They work so hard for all of us. They train hard and, when sent to battle, see disturbing things that might haunt them for the rest of their lives. Many die so that we can live free, unlike many other countries in the world. So next time you see a veteran, think of him or her as someone exceptional. Honor veterans for their service, and thank them for their dedication.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Lisa Murawski
Grade 7
East Hartford Middle School

Did you know that each and every day soldiers are fighting for the rights of our country? On Veteran's Day, we recognize those who fought for our rights, freedom, and our country. These soldiers put their life on the line for our nation. These veterans have all went through the pain of seeing people die, and knowing at any moment that it might have been them. All veterans' have three things in common: love, honor, and respect for America. All veteran's helped serve our country in one way or another, whether it was making sure all the planes were ready to fly, serving food to the soldiers, or getting out there and fighting. I appreciate these veterans. Some people do not understand how much work they have done for us. Whether these veterans fought in Iraq or in World War II, they all gave up their time for America. I cannot imagine the feeling of being there and fighting, to be so scared and so brave at the same time. Next time you are able to take a glimpse of the American Flag, take a moment and think of all the veterans that served our country. I am proud to be an American.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Rumanah Kasliwala
Grade 7
East Hartford Middle School

Happy Veterans Day to all!! Today I will be talking about what happened on Veterans Day. In 1918, on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an Armistice was signed. The "War to End All Wars" was over. On July first it was Armistice Day and that day a man named Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the day and name to Veterans Day. They honored all the people who served the world, state, country, and the whole Universe. Today the Armies, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and the Navy helped our country. Today will be Veterans Day 2005 and I think they all deserve a thank you and we should tell them what a wonderful job they did in serving their country. Veterans Day is a day that is very important for everyone. People should remember what they did for your life and how they saved your life. Would you risk your life? I don't think so, but they did. Today is a day you should appreciate. Armistice Day officially received its name in American in 1926, through a Congressional resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar congressional action. Armistice Day is a day to honor everyone and it was originally commemorated by the Germans signing a paper to end World War I.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Ashley Kinney
Grade 7
Mabelle B. Avery Middle School, Somers

To me, being a veteran means fighting for and protecting the people and the country that they love. It means making a lot of sacrifices, having courage, and knowing people have respect for them. It takes a lot of courage for people to say that they want to be in the military. They do it because they believe in and love our country and want to fight for those reasons. Soldiers know that joining the military means they will have to make sacrifices such as leaving the comfort of their home, leaving their family, and knowing that they have a chance of dieing. They know that their family understands that this is something that they want to do. Those people, the ones that stand up and take the challenge of going to war, know that the people in their country have a lot of respect for them. Without them, there would be no United States of America. It would be taken over by the terrorists and they would want to use their own cultures and their own holidays. The veterans are very brave. They not only fight on our land but all over the world. Veterans have helped us in so many ways for many centuries. That's what being veteran means to me.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Cassidy Caravella
Grade 6
Mabelle B. Avery Middle School, Somers

BOOM! BANG! "Look out there goes a bomb!" Someone could get hurt! Someone could be killed! But do they stop to say that? No! They stand up for our country whether it means LIFE or DEATH! They may know how to defend themselves, but letting go of their wife/husband, and children? That can be a very difficult thing to do. Yes, it may seem like they were leaving you forever, but with years of experience, there's a good chance that they would come back alive! We love them! We adore them, and we take care of them. When we send canned foods and clothes to them, they are proud to be serving our country. That's why we now have 50 stars on our bright, beautiful flag that stands for freedom. But if they didn't fight in those terrible wars, there might still be starvation, or even wars happening all over again. Just like Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have a dream," and so do they. We have a dream so powerful that nothing can stop it. Or dream is to make it so there's peace on each, and happiness, and some day, the people who fight for us in the Army and Navy, will make that dream come true. And you know what? They still are. They are so great they deserve a day of their own. It's day to rest and enjoy and a day for us to than them. That's what Veteran's Day is all about. The people who were, and still are fighting for the ones they love, protecting people from terrible deaths, are fighting for the U.S.A.! (The United States of America!), for FREEDOM, and you know what…It's working!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Brooke Ballard
Grade 6
Mabelle B. Avery Middle School, Somers

To me being a veteran means being willing to give your life to America because you could have died in the war. Giving your life to America shows that you love your family because you were fighting for them. The people that are usually a Veteran are loving, happy, brave and caring. I think that the veterans of America were not only soldiers but also were heroes to everyone. Every morning they probably woke up knowing it might be the day they die for their country. I had a great grandpa that got shot twice in World War II and he has a purple heart. My mom now keeps it in a safe place. I also had another great grandfather who fought in World War II, and a grandfather who all fought in the Korean War. A lot of people would not take the job of being a soldier knowing that they could die at any time. The people that took the job were not selfish because they were fighting for their families and America. The people that fought in the war made it so that we can have freedom today and go where we want to go and do what we want to do.

Freedom is worth fighting for. Well people fight for their families and for the freedom that we have today, not all people have that. People also fight for the country so that all of us can live here and go to school here and so we can have food to eat and clean water to drink. I respect the veterans for what they have done for me. They should all be remembered as heroes.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Kathleen Ayotte
Grade 6
St. Martha School, Enfield

A veteran is any person that has served in the Armed Forces. These veterans risk their lives to help and protect our country. We should give our respect and honor to these brave people on Veterans Day. Many of these honorable veterans are now dead, but others are alive right now. Many people today have relatives that are veterans. My own uncle is a veteran, and he wears a tattoo showing that he was in the navy. A lot of veterans are very smart people with college degrees. Some travel throughout the whole world both on land and on the seas. They make numerous sacrifices such as leaving a good job, leaving their families, and leaving schools. Veterans may be subject to very bad injuries which may even lead to death. They chance this for us and our country.

During one of the wars my great, great uncle helped out a great hero when he was in danger and needed a ride. I am proud of him. You should also be proud of what the veterans have accomplished. I was so interested that I looked up information about the following veterans: Kevin John Joyce, Thomas Joseph Conners, and Dwain Ursy Mcgriff. I am so glad that the names of veterans are printed on the Wall in Washington, D.C. They deserve our respect and appreciation on Veterans Day.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Nichole O'Brien
Grade 7
St. Martha School, Enfield

A veteran's life is a good life: traveling the world, getting to see famous places, and being honored on Veterans Day.

Even though being a veteran has its ups, it can also have its downs. While in the Armed Forces, veterans may have to risk their lives to protect our country and our way of life. Risking arm and limb for people they don't know seems really special to me. Awarding medals and citations is the least we can do for them. Families that wait by the phone to see if their family member is OK are always relieved to see them come home and be honored with parades, celebrations, and awards. That is the happiest possibility in the world for them.

Veterans make a great difference in our community. Just knowing I am safe makes a big difference to me. That is why on this Veterans Day we should respect, honor, and thank our veterans for the great work they have done for us.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Katie Kupchunos
Grade 7
Vernon Center Middle School

Have you ever wondered why you and I are safe, free, and protected? We are safe, free, and protected because Americans step up to the plate and risk their lives for ours. If they die they will die with honor and respect. They have walked out onto war grounds to see us live free, safe, and protected. They are VETERANS!

Anyone who went on war grounds is a veteran. A veteran is a person who has had experience at war, and/or a person who had served in war. Basically someone who is willing to die for their country is a veteran. For example what Nathan Hale said, "I only regret that I have, but one life to lose for my country." He in my eyes is one of our veterans. In a 1993 encyclopedia is read that 87 million veterans fought in war including the 27 million still living. Lon times ago when war was around 18 year old boys and older men were going to war. Some were only 18 year old boys and they had to see the horror and pain of war, watching people die before them. It is very hard to go to war so we owe veterans a lot. Without veterans our future would be different. The past veterans have helped shape our future. In other words veterans are everyone's heroes and we owe them a lot.

Did you know that you didn't have to carry around a gun to be a veteran? They could have been a cook, mailman, mechanic, support personal, driver of a car, computer operator, medics, supply officer, file clerks.

In my opinion you don't even have to be on war grounds to be called a veteran. You could have been someone who worked at a base. For example my uncle Jim is in the air force, but he hasn't' been on war grounds with a gun. He is a mechanic who works on the planes at a base in Texas. In my eyes my uncle Jim or anyone else who is like him is a veteran.

Do you know where we would be without veterans? I believe our country would be broken, who knows we could be ruled by Japan without our veterans. To answer the question, what it means to be a veteran? Being a veteran means stepping up for their country, someone who knows the risk of being at war, but will stand up tall and fight for their country. Someone who is honored all over America and someone who makes us safe, free, and protected. We owe them a lot! Who knows where we would be without them. God Bless America and Thanks to Veterans!

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Stewart Henderson
Grade 7
St. James School, Manchester

Veterans mean a lot to me. I value the fact that someone will risk their life so that we can be free. Many of these veterans died because they stood up for what was right. To protect us from fear, many brave people have lost their lives.

Many people sacrificed their lives for our freedom. 116,708 Americans died in World War I. 417,316 GIs lost their lives in World War II. In the Korean War 33,651 U.S. servicemen died, and 58,168 Americans soldiers died in Vietnam.

Now in Iraq many people are fighting to keep our country safe from terrorism. They are making sure that we are safe. They are enforcing law in a place that needs it.

I understand what it means to be a veteran from hearing the stories about my grandfathers. Both served our country during World War II. They were brave men who enlisted right after the attack on Pearl Harbor because of their sense of duty to America. One of my grandfathers was in the Army and served here in the U.S., while the other served aboard a Coast Guard ship in the South Pacific. I'm proud of their dedication to our country and its principles.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Tyler Detorie
Grade 6
Canton Intermediate School

Being a U.S. military veteran is such an incredible honor. I should know, my dad flew his A-10 Thunderbolt II in the Iraqi Freedom War. I would love to be a veteran too and have a whole country worth of people look up to me, like I do to my own dad, but its just way too scary for me. Just think about it, having millions of foreign people shoot at you from the ground or from big bombers in the sky. It's scary period, even if you're in an airplane. Being a veteran means that you sacrifice your own life for your country. Not only do the veterans sacrifice their lives for us, but they also sacrifice time from their families, and in my dad's case, his primary job as a commercial pilot. All of the veterans didn't only fight in the war because they were called upon to do it, but because they wanted to help our country and protect us from the Iraqi tyranny. My dad was quoted saying "Primarily, I wanted to serve my country and fly jets" to the Farmington Valley Post. What it means to me to be a veteran is great respect, pride, and honor. All these traits are definitely earned by our U.S. veterans.

What It Means To Be A Veteran
By Kristie Nardini
Grade 7
John F. Kennedy Middle School, Plantsville

I would like to tell you about my two favorite veterans. But first of all, what is a veteran? Why are they so special? What did they do?

Well, veterans are people who used to serve in the war. Veterans are so special because they helped make the world the way it is today. Without soldiers, black people would still be slaves! But we won the war mostly because of our soldiers, and are lucky to have veterans that survived. So many people are happy to have their loved ones back home. As an honor to them, we celebrate the 11th day of the 11th month as Veterans Day.

So, who are my two favorite veterans? One of them is my grandfather Daniel Robert Nardini. He was in the navy for World War 2. He signed himself up when he was 18. Daniel was a signal man on the USS Long Island. He visited Japan but did not see any combat. I love my grandfather and he is so special to me.

My other favorite veteran is my grandfather John Wesley Hosmer. He wanted to be in the army when he was 17, but he only weighed 122 lbs, and you have to be 130 lbs. In June of 1944, he graduated from high school. On July 4th he joined the service. He wanted to be a pilot but did not have good enough eyesight. So instead, he became a military policeman and was in combat. He told himself that if he ever came back from the war alive, he would be a minister praising God. Well, this veteran was true to his own word. He returned from the army and went to seminary school. Then my grandfather became a minister in Connecticut. He married my parents and baptized my sister and me. Now my grandfather is in God's house.

Both of my grandfathers are veterans of World War 2. I am so glad that they have a day dedicated to them and all of the other veterans who have made such a difference in this world.

This essay is dedicated to Grandpa Nardini.

In memory of Grandpa Hosmer.

Copyright © 2018, Hartford Courant

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