The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 12, 2012

Mary Jean Smith: ‘Free to be ourselves’

By Mary Jean Smith
Special to The Globe

NOEL, Mo. — Mary Jean Smith, First place

Grade 8, Noel Elementary

Parents, Mark and Martha Smith

Teacher, Meranda Flickinger

Veterans have defended my liberty and freedom by displaying an immense amount of courage and strength. They fought for us, America. They didn’t let anyone stop them, even though they had to crawl through dirt, take a wound, or leave their loved ones to get us there.

Veterans have faced what many people fear — war. Not only have they experienced the flying bullets, they’ve experienced the mental and physical pain. The pain of what it was like to see a fellow soldier die, to have to leave them there on the battlefield, the pain of feeling a gunshot wound. Through it all, they’ve shown everyone that America never gives up; we are united as one.

Think back to Nov. 11, 1918, the end of World War I. You can almost hear the crowds singing. You can see the children crying tears of joy, and their mothers reaching for the long-awaited soldiers who fought for them. You can picture the veterans stepping off of the train, arms outstretched as their little ones rush towards them. This is the feeling of hope, the feeling of gratefulness, the feeling of pride. It shapes people in ways that you cannot imagine.

The veterans of America, sons, daughters, parents and grandparents, have given up everything just to maintain the rights of our nation. They are people whom even the strongest, weakest, smallest, and biggest should honor. They have been to places they have never seen, yet shown courage, even when they were frightened.

As I was thinking about the reasons why I honor veterans, I realized one thing. No one can tell Americans what religion they must follow, how they should dress, or how they should speak. They can simply be themselves. So the next time you find yourself next to a veteran, remember that they defended you. They helped you to be the American you are.