Jennifer R. Page
America’s Gift to My Generation—The Tree of Liberty
If America were a tree, every leaf would be an individual on a branch of opportunity, supported by a trunk of freedom, and held fast in the ground by roots of courage. With time, the old leaves fall, and are replaced by bright green buds as the roots reach deeper, the trunk grows wider, and the branches stretch higher. For my generation, this tree of liberty is a gift that has been passed down through our history, an embodiment of hope and possibilities, but too often we take it for granted and forget the lengths that those before us have gone to in order to protect it.
Our Founding Fathers risked their lives just to plant its seed, to break free from their oppressor and inspire a nation. The ideals that they established through the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are still alive today because of the brave men that fought to uphold them during the Revolutionary War, but the tribulations did not end there. Soon after America fended off England for a second time in 1812, the unity of the United States would be tested in the Civil War. Ultimately, America emerged united from all of these bloody conflicts with more liberty than before. Though these courageous people are long dead, we can honor their memory by perpetuating the freedoms they fought for, by keeping the tree alive.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Our veterans are a living reminder of this because, while they may have survived their service to our country, countless others did not. These brave, selfless people deserve not only to be respected, but also to be celebrated. That is why my generation must keep them in our hearts always, not just on Veteran’s Day, so we can commemorate them in the only way we know how. We must seize the opportunities that the sacrifices of our soldiers and citizens made possible, and live our lives to the fullest, because that is their gift to us.
America’s gift to my generation is the promise that we can be anything we want to be, the promise of possibility, and the promise of freedom. But with this gift comes a responsibility, one that has been on the shoulders of every single American before us. Keep the tree alive.