On Nov. 17, three Roland-Story Middle School students received awards from the Ames VFW for the “Patriot’s Pen” essay contest. This year’s theme was “America’s gift to my generation.” The first place winner was Baylie Janssen, second place was Ali Pickering, and third place was Addison Mohr.


The awards came with cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50. Following are the essays the students wrote:


“America’s Gift To My Generation”


By Baylie Janssen


1st place winner


Sometimes when I ponder on how many gifts that I have in my generation I think of how blessed I am to live in this country of the United States of America. Ronald Reagan once said, “ Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Freedom is one thing that stands out to me the most. Having Freedom, does not mean that we will all agree on everything in this nation, but gives us the ability to disagree and work out our differences to find a way to get along.


This also reminds me of our flag and how our flag represents freedom. The color white, represents purity and innocence. Red is the color that represents hardships and courage, and sometimes as one country we do not get along as we should. This reminds me of our civil rights and 9/11. Blue is the color that represents perseverance. For instance, we may not agree on many things, such as when it comes to politics and voting for certain candidates in this nation, but we must learn to push through our differences and stand together as a nation. In this nation, I believe that we all have different beliefs such and religions, professions, voting, and even the freedom of speech. “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting us.” quote from unknown. The little stars in the corner of our flag represents the fifty states in this country. This also means to me that everyone is part of our country and even having freedom and rights, there is still a difference between right and wrong. When I listen to the National Anthem at sporting events I realized what a great country I live in. We must stand together and always choose to do what’s right in order for us to continue to strengthen the bonds of this great nation!


“America’s Gift To My Generation”


By Alexandra Pickering


2nd place winner


I believe America’s gift to my generation is freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Thanks to veterans, our country is free and that is truly a gift. And I don’t mean a gift that you find wrapped up under a Christmas tree or that you get given to you on your birthday that gets old, or worn out, or stops working. I mean a gift that never will be worn out as long as we fight for it, which is what our veterans do, which we should all be thankful for.


All I can think as I write this is that if we didn’t have freedom of speech I might not be allowed to write this. I could be horribly persecuted in other countries for this because they don’t have freedom of speech, and if our country’s veterans didn’t fight for our country’s freedom and constitutional rights, we wouldn’t have freedom of speech either. If they didn’t fight for our country we might not be allowed to have such diverse languages in our country. We wouldn’t be allowed to believe in what we want to believe in. We might all have to follow Muslim beliefs, or Buddhist beliefs, or we might all have to be Christians. But since our country’s veterans fight for America, we have freedom of religion. Veterans risk their lives to make it so we can have rights and freedom. They gave up so much to protect our country which is an amazing gift they give to my generation.


We are given so many gifts from our country’s veterans, and there are so many it would be impossible to list them all. They protect our country’s rights, for which they should receive an immeasurable amount of gratitude. Our country’s rights and freedom are the most important gift we will ever receive, and America’s veterans protect that, and protect the people who live in America, and for that, we thank you.


“America’s Gift To My Generation”


By Addison Mohr


3rd place winner


America’s gift to me is the freedom to do what I believe in. America is a great place to be because of all the benefits we receive. There is so much freedom given to us and we are so lucky to have it. We are fortunate enough to have the freedom to do what we believe in and feel is right. To me that’s something to never take for granted.


To be able to wake up every morning and have the opportunity to go to school, perform in the job you love, or simply speak how you feel because it’s your right, is something worth working for. Is it really our right though? I believe it’s not our right but our privilege that we were given this amazing life of freedom and choice. Something we should never forget the true meaning of. Never forget the people who have given us this amazing privilege. And never forget the people fighting to keep this privilege. This is a gift that couldn’t be traded for the most valuable object in the world. A gift that the meaning of could never be forgotten or changed. A gift that is so perfect no other gift could compare to.


There is an estimated 323.1 million citizens in the United States. Regardless of color, religion, height, or nationality we can choose the path we want to take in our lives. We can choose to go to college, choose to perform in the job you want, or choose to simply speak how we feel. For some countries this is all chosen for you, and you can’t always say what you would like. America is a country of freedom and choice. That is a privilege that compares to no other. America’s gift to my generation is the best gift you could ever receive.