Memorial Day Essay for 2018
1st Place Winner: Jack Stead, 7th Grade, St. Margaret School, Narberth, PA
How Can We Honor Those Veterans Who Served During the War on Terrorism?
Veterans Deserve Our Respect
One in every five veterans are homeless, 50% have mental illness, and 70% experience abuse. “We don’t know them all but we owe them all.” ---- Anonymous
Veterans sacrifice their lives for us not just physically, but mentally as well. One example of this was the aftermath of September 11th, 2001. This day in history was remembered by two planes that collided into New York’s Twin Towers resulting in the death of 2,753 innocent lives. The United States launched the war on terrorism and resulted in our soldiers being deployed for many years. When our veterans return from war, they are left with a lasting impact; death, poverty, and in some instances, they suffer from mental illness. So, how can we repay our veterans? One way is to build community centers that would house veterans in need and eliminate homelessness. These centers wouldn’t just be in one location but throughout the United States to serve all areas.
Veterans give up their lives to protect our freedom. They should not have to come home and end up living on the streets. On a freezing night in December, I visited the Wells Fargo Center to watch a basketball game. Upon exiting the stadium, I encountered a homeless man begging for spare change. This man had a cardboard sign saying “46 months in Vietnam but in return I have no money and no home.” This man had a kitten, and both were shaking from the cold temperatures. My idea of building a Veterans Community Center would alleviate the need for him to be on the street begging for food. The organization would be named “We Care.” The name symbolizes that we recognize the value of our veterans and “care” to make a big difference in the world.
“We Care” will have a section to treat for mental illness and rehabilitate men and women to integrate back into everyday life. Veterans go through hard times on the battlefield. For example, they witness their friend being shot or watch children die in front of them. Veterans aren’t broken but they’re damaged in a way that can be fixed. Veterans just need care and when they can’t help themselves, we must care for them. When veterans return home, they may be physically different or experience mental illness. As a country, we are not supporting our veterans. We must act now!
My organization would start online by fundraising and spreading awareness. Once we raise enough money, we can start to break ground on the first building. This building might start out small but with the help of charitable donations, we can raise enough money to upgrade and continue to build. “We Care” is a process and trusting the process would make a positive impact. The last two sections in the center would be the family center and memorial center. In the backyard, we would remember all who served for us and died. “We Care is going to have two dedication stones for family or friends that died in the war and want to memorialize their names. Lastly, for the family center, we are going to have a big open room with inspirational quotes. The family center is an amazing way to see your loved ones and have a delicious treat like cookies or cake.
“We Care” can be turned into a reality with donations and patience. My goal one day is to ensure all veterans have a family by joining a local center. This will truly make a difference in our world. It all starts with one donation, and that donation can be you!