Essay winners express patriotism

Three Carson City students were awarded $350 savings bonds for their essays on the significance of The Pledge of Allegiance since Sept. 11.

School board members each donated one meeting's pay to sponsor the contest and the rest was donated by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

The contest was open to all students and 253 essayists entered.

Photos of the first-place winners and their essays are printed below.

The Pledge of allegiance after Sept. 11: "What it means to me and my country."

Zack Carlevato, Capitol Christian 2nd grade

A good friend to my country

The pledge of allegiance means I promise to be a good friend to my country and not an enemy. I know there are lots of people in our country that help protect us and keep us safe. These people are policemen, firemen, ambulance guys, security guards and soldiers. My mom told me that a lot of people have died fighting for the freedom of our country. I am so thankful to God that even though there was an attack on our country we had people to rescue other people and soldiers to fight back for us. My daddy is a doctor in the Navy. I am so glad that he is safe. I hope that other kids' daddies are safe too.

Michael John Colyer, 13, St. Teresa 7th grade

September 11: A day we will never forget

It began like any other day, the sun was out, and it was going to be a beautiful day. But something was wrong; did I forget to do something in homework? No. Was there a test today? I don't think so. Maybe it was one of those days where there is nothing to feel sad or heavy inside about, but it's just that way. By now I was almost ready for school and I snuck a peek out of my bedroom door and then my jaw dropped. Slowly I turned and met the angry and confused eyes of my mother that seemed to be looking for some kind of answer and could explain the horrible images that flashed across the screen.

I glanced at the TV again and a roaring plane sliced through a building that was not in some far off land or in some other country, it was here in the United States! "O my God," one reporter repeated. Then my heart sank deeper in my chest than it had already felt. The image raced through my head over and over; the words "O my God," "O my God" sped through my mind. My mother's eyes met mine again, she suddenly said "We're at war!"

Quickly I finished getting ready for school and sat anxiously in front of the TV. "It's time to go to school, they have the fire under control and everything will be fine," my mom said. She spoke too soon; just then the South Tower of the World Trade Center toppled over, crushing so many lives with the weight of the world. This was September 11, 2001, a day we will never forget.

When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center they were attacking America to try to tear it apart, but the Pledge of Allegiance is part of America so in a way the terrorists were attacking the pledge and everything it stands for and everything we stand for. America is freedom, loyalty, respect, justice, hope and most of all the people. If you think about it why did we care about the attack on the World Trade Center? They were only some buildings, why did we care about the airplanes that crashed that day? They had people in them, people like you and I. People that make America truly America. Why else did we start to dig through the rubble in the aftermath of 9-11? Every American is different in some way. We may have different skin colors or different backgrounds. Whether we are Asian, African, European, South American or Native American, we are all part of America. We are united forever, we have been even before the Revolution to the Civil War in the South, to the Pacific in World War 2 to September 11 in New York City.

The Pledge of Allegiance is an important part of my life now more than ever. It respects all the people that died that day, all that died for the United States of America, and for my freedom. They earned their place as heroes and they earned my respect in my heart; did they earn your respect? How much is freedom worth? One? Two? Or what about ten lives? Freedom is priceless and it is worth defending. I know that I'm part of America, I know that I stand for all of what America stands for which is loyalty, respect, justice, hope and most of all priceless freedom. America can't be America without its loving, caring and proud people. They are why this country is so special. I know that I can help our soldiers in Afghanistan by being a true American. I am an army of one fighting in everyday life of the United States of America.

I pledge allegiance because I am proud to be an American, like the loving husband that turned back, that turned around to face the raging inferno 80 stories above. Don't forget how he went back up to save one last life but lost his own. Remember the people that called their loved ones in the last minutes of the storm before they were never heard from again in the deep, blue seas of the New York skies. I will not forget. The memory will live on.

Rebecca Higgs, 17, Carson High School

New-found meaning

Saying the pledge had always been haphazard and mostly ignored at my high school. Most kids rose at their desks and stared at the floor, waiting for the leader's voice, of the pledge, to die away and the teacher to announce, "Okay, you guys can sit down now." Maybe one or two kids who weren't sleepy would actually repeat the motto. Sometimes even teachers were too preoccupied with the roll call to listen to the loud speaker.

But things changed after the terrorist attack. Our allegiance suddenly had meaning. There was a new reason for us to remember those who had died in service of our country. Now entire classes of students rise to honor our flag because now it means something to us. Its stars represent our fifty states, but they also are our union to fight for liberty even to death. The red and white stripes represent our original 13 colonies, but they also show our purity and our readiness for war. By voicing a pledge, we as Americans are employing the advantage of our innate, bestowed rights. We are taking a stand for the lives of others. We are publicly declaring that all men are created equal, and we are defending the right to have one's own beliefs and the right to express those to society. When we say the pledge, we are making ourselves part of something, and that flag now represents us as individuals united. I do not believe the flag has more meaning now than it did before 9-11; it still stands for the same ideas, only now it is our flag. We now understand its ideals and have shared in its tragedy. Our flag is alive as it was during The Revolution, The War of 1812, The Civil War, World War I, World War II and Korea. We cannot know firsthand the tragedies of our nation's past, but we are now able to understand them. And so now I can say:

I..a unique individual, equal to all others, with God-given, unalienable rights give up my life and all I own to preserve Liberty, Justice, Truth and my Country sacrificing my honor and my person

to the the symbol

Of the United States of America...of my country and the lives which it represents

And to the Republic, for which it stands...the country of the people, for the people, and by the people

One nation...all of which are united together

Under the grace and under the hand of our Almighty Savior in Whom we have been founded

Indivisible...Who keeps us united

With Liberty...with life, love and the pursuit of happiness

And Justice...and the right to reveal injustice and grievances

For all who hold such as true.

To such our forefathers pledged their lives.

"...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!"

"I regret that I have only one life to lose for my country."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States..."

"...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

"E pluribus unum -- from many, one"

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America."

"...O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave...."

"There is a saying, that we should do to all men like us as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or color they are. And those who steal or rob men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike?"

"I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation....I am in earnest. I will not equivocate-I will not excuse-I will not retreat a single inch-AND I WILL BE HEARD."

"The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman...absolute tyranny over her...women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admissions to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States."

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that form these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

"With malice toward no one; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives me to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

"We look forward to a world founded upon four essential freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression...The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way....The third is freedom from want....The fourth is freedom from fear."

So as Patrick Henry, Nathan Hale, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, every child who has ever pledged their allegiance and as countless others who had said, let us say, today:

'Let's roll!"

For the present, we are America, and our banner still waves.


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