"What Freedom Means to Me"

To qualify for the Oxford County Vietnam Veteran Memorial Scholarship, entrants must write a 500-word essay on the topic, “What Freedom Means to Me.”
In writing her essay, Mariah Witas, daughter of Christine Murphy and Carl Witas, said, “I hadn’t really thought about freedom. It’s something I took for granted.”
But after gathering information from her parents and from her grandfather, Earl Witas, a Vietnam War veteran, she said the subject of freedom was “an eye opener” for her.
Mariah, a freshman at St. Michaels College in Colchester, VT majoring in Biology, was selected as the winner of the $1,000 scholarship.
Mike Mann and Ralph Arsenault of the scholarship committee were on hand for the presentation of the scholarhip at American Legion Post 24.
Mann said the scholarship, now in its fifth year, is the result of funds raised from a lobster feed event held each July at the Legion. “We need the support of the schools and the community for this.”
The scholarship, open to seniors from Mountain Valley and Dirigo, has alternated each year between the two schools. There were a dozen essays considered for this year’s scholarship.
This is Mariah’s scholarship-winning essay:
For my entire life, freedom has been used to describe our country. I’ve heard throughout my education that the United Stated is one of the freeest countries in the world. However, until actually learning about how citizens are treated in other countries, I did not realize just how good I had it as an American as many others still do not realize.
To me, freedom is being able to do what I want. I have an impact on deciding who rules my country because I have the freedom to vote. Freedom is having equal rights, whether you are male, female or a minority. I am free to be angry or sad or happy in public, which is not allowed in other countries. I am able to feel sale and secure in my own country and I have the freedom to keep my life as private as possible.
Without freedom, you could not speak or write freely, you would not be able to practice your own religion or express yourself at all. Without freedom, people would not be able to do anything at all. We would be under pressure all the time, being forced into things instead of making our own choices.
Without freedom, none of us would even begin to know our own personalities. We would live in a world full of the same people, doing the same things day in and day out. There would be absolutely no room for mistakes without freedom, making learning much harder. Everything would be chosen for us by the government that we were not able to elect.
Freedom is about being able to dream. Because of freedom, I can dream of becoming a part of Congress, President of the United States, a scientist or anything I set my mind to. Freedome is about being able to wake up every day and drive my life the way that I choose. Freedom is being able to choose my college major, and freedom is being allowed to further my education by going to college in the first place.
My grandfather fought in the Vietnam War for our country. As the grandfather of a veteran, I realize how important our military is. They fight every day to keep us citizens safe and living a comfortable life. Many people do not realize that we can do most things because of these heroic men and women. Freedom is what they are fighting for and what they deserve.
The Vietnam War was one of the worst in American history. These brave soldiers gave their lives to serve their country and make their families proud. They are the reason why I am able to live my life the way I do. They are why I am free.
Freedom is a broad topic that is hard to explain. But to me, it comes down to one thing, choices. Being allowed to make your own decisions is the biggest and most important freedoms one can possess. Freedom is what makes us one of the greatest and freest countries in the world.