CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
Matthew Stross, Second place
Grade 12, Carl Junction High School
Parents, Bill and Kim Stross
Teacher, Greg Kissel
I don’t know how it feels to run toward blazing gunfire and deafening explosions, how it feels to deliver the crushing news to a now-widowed wife of a fallen soldier, or how it feels to read a bedtime story to my family from the screen of a computer.
I don’t know what it’s like to walk in the boots of a soldier, but I do know what it’s like to be a free man; I know how it feels to call myself “American.” The United States military offers up so freely the gift of freedom to fellow Americans they don’t even know. They protect our freedom by giving the most reputable sacrifice anyone can give to their country: themselves.
I proudly pledge my allegiance to my country every morning, pray to my God each night, attend school each weekday, and go to church every Sunday. I would call myself lucky, but I know that it wasn’t luck that gave me what I take for granted every day. My freedom was paid for in American blood so bravely shed, sweat so proudly exuded, and sacrifice so generously given. The love that our soldiers have for their country is indescribable, and the sacrifice they make inexpressible. My concerns are, at most, trivial compared to the concerns of the American soldier. They leave behind the comfort of their families and friends, and they give themselves to the complete control of our country. The mental and physical anguish that they must endure is unspeakable; they are taught to defy every fiber of human instinct in their bodies. They press on as they watch their comrades fall to the ground mortally wounded, and pray for safety as they unselfishly run toward the enemy. Our soldiers do these things in the name of fidelity for their country, as we freely go about our daily lives.
It’s almost impossible to describe the patriotism and bravery demonstrated by our men and women in uniform every single day; there are few words that don’t completely understate the sacrifice they make for our country. I have an immeasurable admiration for our American soldiers; they march forward in spite of fear and protect our freedom by laying their lives on the line.