Thiravong places fourth in essay contest

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ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School senior Megan Thiravong was recognized Wednesday for her Voice of Democracy Scholarship Essay which won fourth place in the District 6 VFW’s annual contest.

Rochelle VFW 3878 Post Commander Bill Bumgarner presented Thiravong with two checks – one from the local VFW post and the other from the District post – along with a certificate recognizing her accomplishment in the contest.

“This will definitely help with books and electronics,” Thiravong said of her prize. Thiravong will be attending college in Michigan.

Thiravong’s fourth place finish was out of approximately 260 participants.

“This program has been around, I’d say, since the mid to late 40s,” Bumgarner said. “I’m very very proud of you. It’s very impressive.”

The following is Thiravong’s essay.

“Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?”

Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, our Founding Fathers cumulatively undertook one of the greatest endeavors known to man: building the land of the free, the home of the brave, the United States of America. After preserving the newly formed nation under the Articles of Confederation, the founders banded together to craft our brilliant constitution and set the precedent of Democracy for centuries to come. 

When asking the question, “Is this the country the Founders envisioned?”, the answer is a resounding no; today’s America is better than the nation our predecessors originally anticipated. We may conceptualize this idea through three key points. 

Firstly, we eradicated institutionalized slavery and enacted a successful brotherly bond between various cultures. 

Secondly, the U.S. is on the frontline of governing international affairs. Finally, our advanced educational system and sense of American Pride prepares the next generation of servant leaders.

Our Founding Fathers presented Americans with the chance to succeed through the freedom of equal opportunity; unfortunately, their agenda did not include racial minorities. Some of the Founders even owned a plethora of slaves to manage their households. Because our constitution grants us the right to free speech and assembly, people had the liberty to protest injustice and cultivate a new era of cultural acceptance. The United States is known as the melting pot for its exceptionally diverse population while instituting a sense of unified affinity for our country. People from virtually all over the world immigrated here to build a more prosperous future for their families and contribute their stories to strengthen our nation beyond the scope of our Founding Fathers.

For centuries, European nations ruled international affairs as vast empires who conquered land and established colonies across the globe. Our Declaration of Independence was considered blasphemous and our steadfastness in the face of Great Britain’s brutal military expertise rocked the balance of global power. 

Americans were protected only by their neighbors as minutemen and local militia until foreign nations decided to assist our people. The Founding Fathers did not anticipate that our country would become one of the most economically and militarily prominent sectors of the world. We hold some of the most advanced military equipment and personnel, established influential international organizations, and actively contribute to assisting developing nations. Our Founding Fathers witnessed centuries of history dedicated towards praising the European powers, but they did not predict how America would step forward to challenge the trend.

A formal education during the early 19th century required a multitude of characteristics including, an Anglo-Saxon based heritage, an extremely wealthy family, and previous acquaintances of the social elite. Our founding fathers were accustomed to the traditional hierarchy and its exclusive educational benefits. Currently, America has obtained one of the most sophisticated public educational systems in the world that is available to people of all ages, cultures, and economic communities. The next generation of Americans is given the opportunity to absorb academic material from a governmentally funded program and contribute their findings to further benefit our nation.

Today we reflected on the question, “Is this the country the Founders envisioned?”, and after ruminating over our shared history, the simple answer is no. The current United States of America is better than what Founding Fathers conceived due to our mutual dedication towards creating a diverse multicultural community, strengthening our international presence, and providing a successful educational system. Our melting pot welcomes people of all cultures to live peacefully while actively constructing a better future for generations to come.

VFW District 6 is made up of the counties of Ogle, Lee, Boone, Whiteside, Winnebago, Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Caroll.