James Caddell, a former eighth grader at Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton Middle School and a rising freshman at Strom Thurmond High School, represented the state of South Carolina and earned a scholarship at the national level in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot’s Pen essay competition. In October, he wrote his essay as part of an English class assignment on the topic “What Makes America Great.” The local VFW chapter chose Caddell’s essay to represent their organization at the state level.
The essay was later selected to represent South Carolina’s VFW organization and moved on to earn Caddell a $1000 scholarship at the national level. Mr. Jimmy Bates, the VFW’s quartermaster, made the announcement during J-E-T Middle School’s virtual awards day program in June.
“I was excited to hear I had won the state essay contest and had also placed nationally. I am proud to live in such a great nation and am thankful for the brave men and women who have fought for our freedoms,” Caddell stated after learning of his awards.
Find below the text of Caddell’s essay.
America Is Great
America is not only great but truly transcendent in heart. No other country can significantly compare to, successfully defeat, or proudly stand among us. When our flag flutters victoriously in the breeze, we honorably stand with our hands over our hearts to symbolize our pride and love, not just for this phenomenal nation, but for one another. When times are difficult, shoulder to shoulder we stand with expressions of determination engraved on our faces and our eyes forward to the success we strive for. We, together as America, are truly great.
In this nation, citizens have an abundance of freedom and opportunity. There may be laws, but one always has the privilege of making one’s own decisions to change the trajectory of his or her life. There may be conflicts, but one always has the option to act positively or to react negatively. There may be times in one’s life when grievous situations happen, but one can always recover and build from them with an optimistic attitude. When one dream flies out of the window, there is always an open door. In this preeminent land, one always has a choice to do one thing or another. The decisions are constant. The opportunities are never-ending. As long as that star-studded flag flies, freedom and opportunity will always be by our sides.
Every country has its own flag, symbolic of its grandeur. One might hear each citizen’s enthusiastic clamors of how their nation is the premier land. We, in America, however, have an unsurpassable symbol: the Red, White, and Blue. Each of these colors describe the sacrifices, tedious torment, and unfavorable situations that led us to who we are today. Red is the blazing blood exchanged for today’s freedom. White is the purity of this land, the representation of how we should guide others when they stumble upon a sunless path. Blue is for the unity this nation possesses. Tethered together like the ivory-colored stars on our banner, we stand. United under God, we trust and shall always.
America is truly great. We are unparalleled through every aspect and we shall continue. We troop forward together through the rain and on sunny days. Pride should infuse our bodies because we live in the prestigious land of the great and beautiful…America.