“What Freedom Means to Me” by Cassandra Soeldner

By Cassandra Soeldner
8th Grade , Patch Middle School

As an American citizen, freedom affects me in every aspect of life. My country’s founding fathers gave me many important liberties, such as freedom of speech, hoping to achieve freedom for all. As Lech Walesa said, “We hold our heads high, despite the price we have paid, because freedom is priceless.” Americans pride themselves on being ‘the melting pot’ of the world, welcoming others who are searching for freedom. To me, freedom means responsibility, sacrifices, and opportunities.

Freedom means responsibility. This includes making good life choices, and carrying my own weight. If Americans are not responsible enough to make good choices, the country will not be able to prosper. Along with taking care of themselves, we have the responsibility of taking care of our country. Decisions such as who to vote into office and which laws to pass effect everyone in the country, including the future generations. If we do not choose wisely, it will change everyone’s lives.

To me, freedom also means sacrifice. The American military is constantly going to war and fighting for both America’s freedom, and other countries’. “We didn’t pass it [freedom] to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” When Ronald Reagan said this, he was telling people that America has to constantly fight for and protect their freedom. Going back to Lech Walesa’s quote, many American citizens understand that this is the price one must pay to be free, and are okay with paying it. They are willing to sacrifice their lives to fight for freedom for all.

The last thing that freedom means is opportunities. Americans have the opportunity to stand up for things they believe in, and speak out against things they do not. We have the opportunity to make our own independent decisions and decide our future. Americans also get to vote for who is in office, unlike countries whose leaders are chosen by lineage. Due to the opportunities and liberties of America, I feel safe to speak my opinions freely and make independent choices.

Responsibility, sacrifice, and opportunities are what freedom means to me. Freedom is the base of America, and although it may not be easy to maintain, it is worth the effort. It is what makes our country home to millions of people, who together form an amazing, diverse culture.

Editor’s note: Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) conducts a national essay contest for middle school students entitled, Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition. Patch Middle School Student Cassandra Soeldner was among the 54 national finalists of the 2015-16 year to win second place in the 2016 National Patriot’s Pen Contest. For more information, visit https://www.vfw.org/PatriotsPen.

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