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This document was last modified 7:09 PM 3/19/06
original 6:55 PM 3/6/99

What Freedom Means To Me
An essay by Melody Waring
at age 13, from Spearfish, SD

[This is the 1999 winning essay from the National VFW Auxillary essay contest for the topic "What Freedom Means To Me," grades 7-9]

The year is 1942. A chill is in the air. A twelve-foot wall of powerful electrical fencing surrounds the camp. A sneering voice is calling out the roll. Suddenly an emaciated young man falls to the ground in a paralytic fit of coughing. The Nazi official laughs and kicks the man until he lies still, never to get up again. Perhaps somewhere people are happy. Perhaps somewhere people are free. Not in this German concentration camp.

The year is 1936. Behind a locked door, a woman clutches her small son desperately. From outside comes the even tread of marching. With a final, terrified glance at the bolt on the door, the woman hides in a dark corner of the room. She knows it is futile. No one escapes the secret police. No one has any freedom. Not in the Great Purge of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The year is 1955. A few miles away an orchard smolders in its ruin. A leader of the Algerian revolt shakes his turbaned head sadly as he is led away by French army officials. He is to be thrown into a concentration camp and tortured, along with millions of other native Algerians. He and his people had struggled and revolted for freedom to no avail; all is hopeless here in sun-baked Algeria.

The year is this year. It is a Sunday morning in America and people nationwide stroll through the doors of churches. It is a Saturday evening and people nationwide are printing deluxe editions of their newspapers, voicing freely their opinions and feelings on everything from dieting to politics. It is a Tuesday afternoon and children nationwide are pouring out of their school buildings where they are taught without prejudice towards race or sex.

It is because of our freedom that we do not live in the shadow of a concentration camp; it is because of our freedom that we need not cower behind locked doors afraid of secret police; it is because of our American freedom that we are not in a revolt against an overpowering authority.

Freedom: to worship unshackled, to speak uninhibited, to attend schools without being shunned, to vote for the leaders of our nation, to stand against what is wrong, and to fight for what is right. This is what freedom means to me.


Required size of this essay was 300-400 words. Melody has been home schooled all her life and is an avid student of worldviews, music, and writing. The award will be presented in Kansas City later in 1999.
Supported by: The ARK Foundation of Dayton, Inc. a non profit organization since June 1995,
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