GUEST COLUMNEditor’s note: This is the run- ner-up entry in VFW Post 6525’s annual Voice of Democracy contest, written by RHS junior Padraic Sieber. It was read at Thursday’s Veterans Day Assembly at Rockdale High School at special request of the Voice of Democracy committee who pointed out its unique take on the topic “Does My Generation Have a Role in America’s Future” If you study American history you will find amazing tales of heroes and soldiers, inventors and innovators, stories of ordinary men and women who met the challenges life gave them head on.
Will we rise to the challenge as our elders and ancestors did before us?
The answer is a resounding “no.”
The vast majority of kids my age live incredibly easy lives with little to no hardships, at least relative to the hardships of the past.
As a generation, we are immature, petty, stupid, and lack the patriotism and spirit of America. It seems that the desire to do whatever it takes in the pursuit of happiness, which was once so prevalent in American identity, has been replaced with a sense of entitlement.
I have no doubt that we have a role in America’s future; I just have serious doubts about having a positive effect on it.
I see the beginning of a slide into “Panem et Circenses,” a Latin phrase which means “Bread and Circuses.”
By the blood and sweat of our ancestors we have achieved a point in our culture where we can afford to be obsessed by entertainment and food and forget important values.
It was the cause of the collapse of Rome, and it can be the cause for the fall of America into a shadow of its former glory if there are not immediate changes to the attitude of my generation.
America is defined by its current citizens, not the citizens of the distant past. If the future citizens of America are spoiled, self-centered brats, then I fear for the future.
Maybe it would be better if my generation had no hand in America’s future at all, and we were just scrapped.
There are surely a few diamonds in the rough of my generation, but I am not sure it is worth the cost to find them.
Even with the contributions of these “diamonds,” I have little doubt that my generation will be seen as an embarrassing blunder in American history at best.
At worst my generation will be remembered as t he ones that were asleep at the watch. The ones who let freedom die.
It only takes one generation to cripple a nation indefinitely. In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
My generation does not realize how fragile freedom is.
We think of it as something that has always been and will continue to be, regardless of what we do.
My generation sees freedom as something that used to be fought over, but not in this day and age.
This day and age freedom is seen as a given, when in fact it is more at risk than ever before.
Perhaps I am too hard on my generation. Maybe we are just going through the phases of adolescence, and the cruelty and pettiness will fade.
Throughout American history we see that the American people are unique in their ability to take the poor and weak and turn them into the strong and prosperous.
It is amazing, wonderful even, that throughout all of our history we have had such hardy and heroic figures, many of which behave completely contradictory to human nature in their honor and selflessness.
But this trend cannot last forever. Eventually, we will run out of heroes.
They will be crushed under the weight of the apathetic, the lazy, the arrogant, the ones who feel everything they have, they are entitled to as a right, not a privilege.
It is my hope that my generation is not the one to make a reality of this nightmare that haunts me.