Natalie Hays: This great homeland we call America |

Natalie Hays: This great homeland we call America

Natalie Hays
Other Voices

I’d like to share my thoughts on modern-day patriotism in the following essay. This is the winning essay I wrote for the 2019 Nevada County Republican Women Federated’s 11th Grade Americanism Essay Contest.

My essay is titled “In America, I Trust: What Being a Patriot Means to Me.” I am going to be an incoming senior at Ghidotti Early College High School and plan to take these ideals along with me at a four-year university within the next year, where I plan to major in political science. I hope you enjoy it:

I was sitting in my American government class when I heard a quote read by my teacher from our 40th president, Ronald Reagan. “When we honor our flag, we honor what we stand for as a nation — freedom, equality, justice, and hope.”

We had been learning about the 1980s, a time of peril, a roller coaster of crucial political affairs, and, of course, the infamous Reagan Era, a time in which the Republican party led the fight for lasting tranquility within our nation. As a bright-eyed political science nerd and outspoken proud American, the idea of learning more about patriotism made me ecstatic. In fact, I couldn’t wait to learn more about the subject and Reagan’s ability to unite Americans in the fight for security and continued prosperity in our nation’s history.

To be a patriot, I believe there is more than meets the eye.

However, when I got to thinking about my own passion for this country, I began to realize that most of my generation would believe my ideas to be different from theirs. In an era in which it seems certain politicians and powerful figures resort to comments about leaders with opposing ideas and close-minded political agendas to attempt to get their way, it seems many have lost a sense of what it means to truly defend our country and create a thriving shield of equality around each of our citizens to reach a common goal. So what does it mean to me to be an American patriot?

To be a patriot, I believe there is more than meets the eye. Not only must we as citizens utilize the oath to love and accept our nation while simultaneously reforming it, but I feel we must also radiate love and kindness and choose an open mind over a cold heart. We must encourage our younger and current generations to discover themselves and unearth courage, but not be so bold as to shut out the ideas of our acquaintances, no matter how different their beliefs are. We as a nation are meant to have faith in each other, as we are the driving force created by God to learn from our mistakes, open our hearts, and create a beacon of hope for diverse citizens.

So what else does patriotism honor, besides the morals of compassion, hope, and faith in the country? In my personal opinion, I feel that in order to have integrity within ourselves and within this great nation, we must stand for and honor our flag during the Pledge of Allegiance as we continually vow to love our country, flaws and all, and protect and renovate it for generations to come.

Moreover, to be a patriot, we must cherish the innovations and new platforms we as citizens have helped to create to encourage diversity. I feel that an extremely important aspect of the role of an American patriot is to exercise the right to vote. As a female patriot in particular, a woman’s right to vote, established almost 100 years ago by the 19th Amendment of our Constitution, is a cherished freedom.

As patriots, we must continue the fight to protect our Constitution, our individual freedoms, our social and political liberties, and respect our laws at the same time.

Most importantly, we must always stand for and respect our nation, no matter our stances on issues, and no matter our political party. We must honor those that fight and sacrifice themselves to preserve our existence, to preserve our faith, and to preserve our individual, social, and political rights, and most of all, we must unite together and fight for this great homeland we call America.

Natalie Hays lives in Penn Valley.

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