From: Kailey Warner
On my first day of AP calculus, the class rose for the Pledge of Allegiance. I started in the familiar rhythm but stopped, shocked by the sound of my voice. Aside from the soft drone on the intercom, the room hung in silence.
My classmates had impressed me with their intelligence and drive. I watched them consider problems that demanded intense critical thinking. It surprised me, therefore, when they sealed their lips before the flag. Did they not consider their privileges as American citizens? I hoped they realized that their freedom made their achievements possible.
When it comes to potential, America gives us opportunity and leaves us choice. In the classroom, granted the opportunity to learn, my classmates chose to devote themselves to their education. They were working toward great lives for themselves.
Meanwhile, many children across the world live in such extreme poverty that their only choice is survival. If given the opportunity, these children could better their lives, but most labor in fields, never to set foot in school. Though they work hard, they remain in poverty, whereas my classmates and I saw our work translated into college scholarships, creating more opportunity.
The pledge provides a time to reflect in gratitude how we can prosper in a land that allows advancement through liberty.
However, having the freedom to make our own choices does not mean we will always be rewarded. Our freedoms do not automatically grant us happiness but allow us the pursuit of it; for that we should be thankful. It pains me to see people overlook their liberties because their situations are not exactly how they wish.
Life will always be unfair. Some will start out with more privileges than others, but in America all have the same freedom. We must remember that as children, our lives were built by our parents’ efforts. As adults, we determine our lives, and if we want more, we must to work more than our parents. Freedom is a means, not an end. Freedom is our choice. What we want in the end, we decide.
Ultimately life is not measured by what is given to us but by what we do with it. Instead of using our freedoms for selfishness and indulgence, let us use them responsibly. Let us put forth our time and energy into making our world better rather than complain about its disparities. If we recognize that life is unfair, let us also recognize our own talents and resources and use them to serve others who lack. When Americans sacrifice for each other, our country improves.
Let us not squander what we have been given. Let us be thankful and express our gratitude through the responsible use of our freedom and by honoring the country that grants it.