VFW Post #280

2013 Voice of Democracy Recipient

Jackson Daniel, age 15, Columbia

After another long day of research and inquiry, I was lying in bed still contemplating why I and so many others are optimistic about our Nation's future. Such a seemingly simple question yet none, including myself, could truly articulate why they felt that way. Deep down I knew that being optimistic about our Nation's future meant far more than certainty or confidence, and definitely something much deeper than hope.

As I closed my eyes, I wondered what it would be like to consult with some real experts, great leaders with experience. I realized that only forty-four such men existed, and that only a few of them were still alive.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the Oval Office and across from me sat Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

"So young man, what's up?" Asked President Obama.

"Well, sir, I'm working on an essay and have discovered that although I and mony others are optimistic about the future of our Nation, we just don't know why it is that we feel that way. Are you optimistic about our future, and if so, why?"

"I am indeed optimistic about our Nation's future. I have seen Americans do amazing things. I have seen the American people not only endure hardship but rise up and rebuild after natural disasters such as the devastation of hurricane Sandy, the tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma and Joplin, Missouri. I have seen the American people survive the horrors of gun violence in a little town called Neewton, Connecticut, the city of Aurora, Colorado, and Ft. Hood, Texas".

"May I interject?" Asked President Clinton.

"Of course," replied President Obama.

"I agree with the President. There are many reasons to be optimistic about our Nation's future. Our military servicemen and women sacrifice everything so that we can live in peace and prosperity. Everyday all across this Nation and abroad, our troops selflessly sacrifice life and limb to protect the American way of life, to protect those unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness our forefathers fought and died for".

"Thank you very much, sir." I said.

"Is it my turn?" Asked President Bush, chuckling. "Seriously though, I too, am optomistic about our future. During my presidency, our Nation endured hurricane Katrina, yet despite the grave devastation, American citizens from all walks of life stepped forward to help rebuild. And as you know, on September 11, 2001, our Great Nation was attacked on our own soil by the evil of terrorism, by extremists who targeted innocent civilians. Once again, we called upon our brave servicemen and women to combat terrorism in hostile nations, to bring the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to justice. And all across America I did not see citizens who hid in fear. I say Americans courageously going on with their lives not allowing the hatred from the evil doers to control them. We may be tested but as Americans, we will always stand up to evil, to hatred, and to any who oppose our Great Nation."

The next day, I thought about what these great men had told me, and I began to have clarity. I could see why I have optimism in our future. It is our American resolve, the strength of the American Spirit. It is what won our independence, what abolished slavery, and what continues to insure the legacy of freedom in our coutry. It even landed us on the moon. If President John F. Kennedy was alive today, I can only imgane what his wise words would be on this subject. It would probably go something like this: "We choose to be optimistic. We choose to be optimistic, not because it is easy, but because it is hard".

So yes, at times it may be hard, but the fabric of our Great Nation's flag and all that it stands for is woven into the very essence of our being and continues to flow outward from generation to generation through the stars, stripes, and hearts of the American Spirit.