Voice of Democracy 2022-2023 

VFW National Headquarters announces the Voice of Democracy 2022-2023 Theme "Why Is The Veterans Important?"  

Student Entry Deadline:  October 31, 2022

Patriotic Audio Essay Competition Grand Prize: $30,000 Award

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Voice of Democracy 2021-2022

Patriotic Audio Essay Competition Post Winner



"America:  Where Do We Go from Here?”


Abigail Thomas


We all remember where we were THAT Tuesday morning.  Well, let me backup, I'm sure know where you were that tragic day. Unlike most of you, I do not remember where I was that unimaginable day, not because I forgot, but because I was yet to be born. I could not tell you how that morning made me feel, or how I tried to recoup after. I can only share my thoughts from what I've seen on each anniversary since I have been alive. But what I can tell you is what I have seen in the years after that awful day. I was born in 2004, just 3 years after the attacks in Washington and New York. Now you may be asking yourself, why does the life of a 17-year-old next gen girl have anything to do with America and where we should go from here? I promise I got you! I would say I grew up in a very patriotic family. My mother is a social studies teacher, and my father is a lawyer. Both of my grandfathers served in the military. I went to a presidential rally when I was a month old. When I say my parents love this country, I mean they LOVE this country. Even though I was never there to experience what most people did on that no good very bad day, I have experienced something different. I have been taught to study history and to learn from those that have become before usHowever, our founders allowed us to be able to grow and change as a nation. So that we could always strive to be more perfect. America may never achieve perfection, but the study of America's history is vital to us moving forward.


As this past year rang in the 20th anniversary of 9/11, you would expect it would be a topic of discussion at school, considering the fact that every single student grades K - 12 was not alive on September 11. The topic of conversation was brought to only 2 of my 6 classes. Now, do I have 3 science classes, yes, however as Americans we strive to "never forget" that terrible day. So, why didn't we talk about it in all of my classes? All of my teachers must remember where they were? Why not talk to us about something so historically important so that we could make another connection as students to someone that lived through such important history. It doesn't matter that my science teachers teach science. When they talk about something as important as 9/11 they make the event more real, more understandable by those of us that didn't live through it.


So, you may wonder where I am going with all of this? Let me start over, I miss the America that existed THAT September 12. On September 12 of 2001. I want you to close your eyes and think about where you were on September 12, 2001. Were you home trying to process everything that had happened the day before? Were you sitting at home thinking that getting back to normal would be impossible? I bet you remember exactly what you did that day. But why does that have anything with today's America? Well folks, let me share my perspective. I may not have been born in time to be here for9/11 or 9/12 but I know the difference between the September 12 of 2001 and the September 12 of 2021. The 2001, September 12 was filled with red, white, and blue - patriotism ... pure Patriotism. As Americans, we rallied to show the world that no matter what had happened to us on September 11 that we were united. People checked in on each other. They cared enough to reach out to those around them. To make sure that their family, friends and neighbors were okay. The September of 2021 is filled with division among citizens. All kinds of division, including racial, socio-economic, vaccination status, mask wearing, non-mask wearing and other covid related division. This division has closed people off from one another. Instead of closing our doors and making division even more apparent, we need to connect. In order to figure out where we are going to go from here we need to find those connections again. The connections we have to one another, the connections we have to OUR history, and the connections we have to that feeling. The feeling that living in America is the greatest privilege we are given in life. People all over the world are dying, trying to come here to live in the America they have only been told about by their families, teachers and news media.



Let's get back to the days like the ones on September 12, 2001. One where our connections to one another can help pull us out of where we are and get us back to the days where Americans are proud to be Americans again, proud to fly the flag, proud to sing the national anthem, proud to stand for the pledge of allegiance and proud of this great idea that became The United States of America.