Post Voice of Democracy Essay Winner: Jessica Chacko

The VFW sponsors the annual Voice of Democracy essay contest for high schoolers. Jessica Chacko, a ninth-grader, entered at the post and won first place, which includes a $100 prize. She also placed third place at the district level and will receive a $100 prize. Her essay is copied below. Congratulations, Jessica!


My Responsibility to America


Ask yourself, “What is your responsibility to America?” All citizens have responsibilities as members of a family, as students, and as a part of their community.


Most families have a set of regulations that are usually set by the parents in the family so that their children can be safe and each member of the family must follow.   Some of these rules might include what social activities the children may participate in, chores that they must complete, curfews, and bedtimes.  These rules aren’t always the same, however; they change as situations change; as the children grow older and are entrusted with more responsibility.  Everyone in the family needs to cooperate with these set rules in order for the family to be able to function smoothly and live together in peace and harmony.  To be a responsible family member, you simply need to know your boundaries, follow the rules and help each other when you can. An example of this would be doing an extra chore without being told to do so, or trying to get along with your siblings.  Other responsibilities of a family member are being truthful, sincere, and courteous towards the other members of your family and to others in general.  My family, for example, has many rules that I, as a member of this family, must follow.  When I was younger, I had many more set rules that I was required to follow, and as I grew older and school and sports took up more time, my parents entrusted me with more responsibilities and gave me more freedom I try to be a responsible family member, but I am not perfect, and my family recognizes this, but I attempt to be the best that I can be while also managing my academic and social life.


As well as having a responsibility to your family, we all have responsibilities as students.  All students are to be treated with dignity and respect, but students also have to follow rules.  These rules and regulations are set in place for the safety and health of students as well as staff members and make for a functional and supportive environment.   As students we need to come to school with our best foot forward and a commitment to accomplish the tasks we face ahead.  We must keep an open mind to other people’s ideas and accept that we are all unique.  We need to learn the art of compromise and recognize that the saying, “Sharing is caring,” is extremely important.  We also need to do our part in keeping the classroom environment orderly.  At my high school, there are many rules in place that we, as the student body are required to follow.  Some of these rules include the strict dress code that ensures that students are dressed professionally and modestly and the no-gum rule that applies to everyone, including faculty, so that it helps keep the facility clean.  There are consequences for not following the set rules, such as detention, suspension, and expulsion.  As a student, I am expected to come to school each and every day prepared with all of my supplies and an attitude for learning.  I try to keep an open mind at all times because I know that some of my peers have really good ideas, and I need to work together with them in order to create a positive learning environment for all of us.


As citizens of the United States of America, we all need to follow societal rules and laws because they are necessary for protecting the safety and well-being of other individuals, as well as defending our freedom.  Adults play their part in the society by paying taxes and voting.  As today’s youth, we can also help our community by volunteering to assist community events and organizations and by helping others in need.  On an even smaller scale, we can help to pick up garbage in a local park, visit a nursing home, or even just offer to walk our neighbor’s dog.   Being active members of society is one of the responsibilities of every able person and getting involved in our community makes us feel better about ourselves. As a ninth grade student who wants the best for her community, I try to do whatever I can in order to make my community a better place for everyone in it.  As a volunteer I have helped provide company for patients at the Veterans Affairs Hospital during the holidays, and I have also volunteered with my school and other non-profit organizations in my area.  As a United States Naval Sea Cadet, I have developed a strong love and respect for America’s veterans and our military. I love talking to the veterans at the VA Hospital and hearing their stories about how they have suffered and how they continue to struggle.  American veterans are the epitome of perfect citizenship, and I aspire to be like them in my perseverance and patriotism.


President John F. Kennedy once said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” So when asked what my responsibility to America is, my answer is simple. My responsibility to America is to work with others to improve the greatest country on Earth.