When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you see the young child that only wants to grow up? Do you see the elderly gentlemen that wasted his life away Or Do you see that light and wonder that can fill your eyes in seconds? Because when I look out at you all I see it. I see that beautiful trickle of light that you can only see when you decide you want it to be there. That glorious light that this entire generation possesses. And I think most take for granted. So how do you turn that around? How do you make yourself happy? That is the one question that is completely false. You can’t. Focusing in on yourself and how you can make you happy is the ultimate mistake. This country, our country can only be prosperous if we stop looking inside ourselves to fix everything. Everything is not about you all the time. There are others in this massive beautiful place which we live. My dad always says there will always be someone who has it worse than you. So find that someone and make their day better and guess what yours will be too. That is why my vision for America is that we can be united in a strong front with others, finding our way past our differences and beating those things like selfishness, loneliness, and deprivation that get us from the inside. I believe that the outside things can easily be beaten like poverty, wars, and starvation if we are all together and keep those things from the inside locked out.

Every day in the morning at school we say the pledge. The teacher says please stand and every one grumpily stands up, slaps their right hand on their chest and in the most monotone voice you could possibly have they say the pledge. We stare at the flag with vacant expressions hoping it will be over so we can just get on with our day. One day after doing this many times I realized what I was doing I realized what the pledge really meant and to how much I owed the people who had laid down their lives so that I could be here as a woman indulging myself in the enriched education that I am able to receive. How could I be so rude and disrespectful! I was only concentrating on myself and what I needed at the moment. My love for this country has grown since I’ve decided to think about what it really must be like to actually lay down your life for another. Possibly, someone, you don’t even know. According to statistics taken this last year only 70% of our current generation says they are patriotic. Compared to other generations which averaged about 91%. That’s a large gap. Another pole was taken on if they thought America was the best country with this current generation scoring at a record low of 11% with other generations scoring at an average of about 60%. I think we are scoring so low because we don’t understand what they really went through and the sacrifice that it actually takes to fight in wars or stay behind and keep the economy running. If we were to again just look at ourselves and see that we are not the only ones here on this Earth and what people actually have to go through on a regular day to day basis. Then just maybe we might get it just a little bit more.

An excellent example of our country coming together is the devastating attack of 9/11. On September 11, 2001, two planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, another California-bound plane was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving an airport in New Jersey. Since this plane had taken off late, passengers were informed of the events that had occurred in New York and Washington D.C. When the captain told them that they would not be going back to the airport it was apparent to them that they would be the fourth plane to hit. Instead of standing by and watching helplessly as the plane crashed into another area killing thousands more they decided to do something. They thought of someone besides themselves and we honor that. The plane ended up crashing into a rural field in the middle of Pennsylvania. The only reason this catastrophe was not much worse was that those passengers stood together and rushed the cockpit, overtaking the pilot and saving thousands of lives in the process. They gave their life up to save many so much heartache and pain. I admire their selflessness and bravery. They are such great examples to us in this day and age. In order to change the world around us we must stand together and be selfless in our actions. That is how we become happy and receive that glowing light that I talked about earlier. There is nothing better than being together in serving others.

When I say Christmas what do you think of? Family, Food, Presents. As we approach the day of Christmas what do we do? We write a list of everything that we WANT. May it be clothes or toys or shoes or a football we all do It eventually. But whenever I ask my mom if she too wants to know what I want for Christmas she looks me in the eye and says Elizabeth what are you going to GIVE for Christmas. At first, I would find this annoying and want her to just listen to my list of wants so that I would be sure to have them on Christmas day. But I as got older and more mature I realized that what she was saying was right. I have so much to be thankful for we all do. The many people before us who have fought so bravely for our country and the people who stayed behind to keep the economy running. We have no idea what any of it was like. I am so thankful for our veterans and I can’t even express enough how important they are to my life. We are so lucky to live in this free country. We have so much to give many just can’t open their eyes and see it. You have to choose to give you have to choose to serve you have to choose to be happy.

So I’m going to leave you with a checklist of three things I want you to do when you leave here to today. Number 1.  If you ever get to say the pledge or salute your country in any way do it with pride and respect. When you say the pledge say it with enthusiasm. Don’t forget the great privilege it is to live in the country of purple mountains and /halseen/ filled skies. Number 2. With the Christmas season approaching I want you to find one way that you are going to give this season. Number 3. I want you to choose to be happy together. I want you to every day find someone’s life you can touch just by giving them a friendly smile or saying hi to them. I want you to choose to have that light lit in your eyes. If everyone in this beautiful country were to do those 3 things every year lives would be changed our country would be changed. My vision may seem like a simple one, but to talk of it and to actually do it are two totally different things so I sincerely hope you will take the challenge and change not only other’s lives but your own. You have the chance to change the world so the question is will you do it.