VFW essay winner from Steamboat writes about freedom
January 30, 2018
Steamboat Springs Middle School student Sloan Speer was the the VFW Patriot’s Pen essay contest winner. Her essay on the theme, “America’s Gift to My Generation,” is published below.
America's Gift for My Generation
By Sloan Speer
The greatest gift given to my generation isn't one that can be wrapped in a bow. It's impacted not only my generation, but every person in American history. Men and women have fought and died to protect it. This powerful gift is freedom for everyone.
The story of American freedom started in 1775. Our new country was in conflict because of the growing tension between England and the new colonies. The Revolutionary War, the fifth longest war in American history, was about to begin. British soldiers marched through freshly built streets to keep the colonists under control. Battles raged for eight years, until 1783, when America was finally declared a free country.
But the fight for freedom was not over yet. Since America's founding, African Americans were enslaved and abused. By the 1800s, there were over 900,000 slaves. President Abraham Lincoln wisely said, "Whenever I hear someone arguing for slavery, I have a strong impulse to have it tried on him personally."
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The Civil War started, bringing light into the lives of slaves. The Confederate and Union soldiers fought for four gruesome years. In 1865, the Union won, freeing all slaves. However, discrimination still remained. Black men and women weren't allowed to use the same bathrooms, drink from the same water fountains, or even sleep in the same hotels as white people. This cruelty ended when "The Civil Rights Act of 1964" was passed.
During the 1800s, another quest for freedom was simmering. Throughout American history, women weren't considered equal to men, and didn't have the right to vote. But Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others, saw a different future. They started the women's suffrage movement, leading many silent sentinels outside of the White House. They were arrested and thrown in jail, but their cause took root. In 1919, the 15th amendment was proposed, and then passed the following year.
Freedom has affected everyone in American history. Although my generation might not see it yet, they too are impacted. Because of the many battles Americans have fought to protect this gift, I have a voice, can pursue any career, and I soon will be able to vote. I would like to say thank you to the many men and women who have given their lives to protect this valuable gift for my generation. I feel proud and grateful for America’s freedom.