The Pen Patriot Essay Writing Contest is a VFW sponsored youth essay contest that gives students the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme.
“How can I be a good American? was the theme for 2021-2022.
Three Bell Oaks students – Hayden Straub, Ethan Shelling and Gianna Loftis – entered the essay contest.
We congratulate Hayden, Ethan, and Gianna, and are proud to feature their essays here so the community can also read and share their work.
Students will receive awards at the Camden County VFW and Bellmawr VFW Post 7410 District Graduation Ceremony and they will also be honored at the next Bellmawr School Board meeting on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. in the Bell Oaks Media. Center.
Bellmawr School Superintendent Danielle Sochor said: “I am so excited for our students and so proud of what they have achieved this year.”
By: Hayden Straub
When you hear the word America, what do you think of first? I can’t speak for everyone, but most people would think of red, white, and blue. Wear these festive colors to a barbecue, eat hot dogs and burgers, and hang out with family and friends to celebrate national holidays.
But even if you participate in these traditions, it does not necessarily mean that you are a good American.
Three simple ways to be a good American are to respect the opinions of others, follow the laws, and support those who serve and protect our country.
Growing up, I was always taught the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.
Respect freedom of religion and people’s ways of life and be tolerant of differing opinions. Just because you disagree with someone’s thoughts or feelings doesn’t mean you have to disrespect them.
Likewise, we must respect the laws established to improve our country. Every law-abiding person helps reduce crime in their area. Laws can also help secure our rights as citizens against abuse by other people and organizations.
Even when you are in a difficult position, you must strive to do what is right instead of going against the law.
Finally, it is important to support those who serve and protect our country. First responders, frontline workers and soldiers risk their lives every day to keep American citizens safe.
You can recognize the work they do by donating time and/or resources to organizations that support these people.
In conclusion, there are many traditions and responsibilities associated with being an American, but a higher level of effort is required to be considered a good American.
In order to improve the world we live in, we must live by the values on which the country was founded; in addition to respecting the opinions of others, following the laws and supporting those who serve and protect us.
So while anyone is capable of being a good American, it depends on who actually performs acts like those mentioned above.
By: Ethan Shelling
There are times when you may wonder how adequate you are as an American. You may be worried about playing an important role in the United States.
However, you will find that being a good American does not take as much action as it initially seems. Much more basic acts can be of great benefit to you and your country.
To begin with, to be a good American, you must be a legitimate citizen. Laws are generally there to protect your rights and those of other citizens as well as to ensure safety, which is why it is important to respect them.
A well-known example of a set of important laws is the United States Constitution. For example, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
The obligation to follow these laws is not exclusive to US citizens.
These federal laws relate to the government as much as they relate to you.
Along with this, there are several productive activities you can participate in to serve your community.
Great examples that may come to mind are becoming a lawyer, a police officer, or joining the armed forces, but it doesn’t have to be as big of a responsibility as one of those positions.
Something as simple as activism can do wonders for a community.
Moreover, it is strongly encouraged to vote for politicians. This will help to better gauge what people want and decide which politician to elect for government office.
Finally, you should never have a politically closed mindset. It can benefit both you and others to form your own judgment on whether or not a law is fair or how a political unit is run.
Consider what those laws say or the intent behind those laws, how they are enforced, their fairness, etc.
Also be sure to share your opinions. Although people may have different points of view, you could combine ideas and potentially make a significant difference in your community and your nation.
In conclusion, being a good American is much more than playing a widely recognized role. Simple acts such as being lawful and respectful to others, engaging in community service or activism, and expressing your political opinions, may be small acts, but can evolve into larger phenomena that positively affect the America.
By: Gianna N. Loftis
Johnny Weir once said, “To be a good American, you have to love the world, not just your country.” It reminded me that America is more than a place where I live; it’s a place where families are built, heroes died for, and the best in all my country.
I have to start honoring the country for what it is. Being a good American doesn’t mean you have to change the world, it means you have to do what you can to make the country and its people a better place.
I hope to make a difference in America.
For starters, we all have people we consider leaders and people who inspire us. For some people it might be an athlete or a famous singer, but mine is my mother. No, my mom didn’t make a new invention or become president, but she’s doing what she can to make America better.
My mother takes to the streets of Camden and Kensington to help people struggling with homelessness, mental illness and addiction. She makes bags of food, helps put them in shelters/rest homes, helps with medical care and provides them with clean clothes.
These small acts of kindness could change someone’s life and inspire them to do the same. My mother’s kindness and non-judgmental approach make her a good American. I hope to make a difference in the world like her.
Being a good American depends on who you are. Today, in society, people do not like each other for their differences and their beliefs.
A good American accepts people for who they are, what they’ve been through, the color of their skin, and their religion, because at the end of the day, we’re all Americans.
Good Americans don’t judge people on their past or current lives. Everyone has done things they regret and that’s what makes people grow and get stronger, they shouldn’t be judged forever.
America is a country where differences should bring us together, not separate us.
In conclusion, a good American must love the country for what it is and have hope for what it can be. When you admire people, they should inspire you to improve yourself and the world.
I think I’m a good American and I hope people will one day be inspired by me.