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Autumn Olivia Beck
Winner of the Scottish Rite
Americanism Essay Contest

"One nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." This one sentence recited to conclude the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag may at first seem like just a clever combination of patriotic words used to end our pledge with a bang. However, if you look carefully at this sentence, you will see that it is much more than that. This sentence sums up all of my feelings for the wonderful country in which we live. This sentence is what America means to me, and it reminds me that it is my civic responsibility to uphold the beliefs that this country was founded on.

ONE NATION UNDER GOD

The United States is the one country in the world that boasts "in god we trust" on its currency. The one nation that as a whole believes that our God has watched over our country and has been truly blessed by his grace. The one nation that has set forth in our Bill of Rights our citizenís freedom to worship how we choose, where we choose, or if to worship at all. From the earliest days, when pilgrims settled this land to the days of the thirteen colonies, this quest for freedom of religion has been their motivation and their drive. It has always been said that everyone or every group needs someone to watch over them. The United States, I believe, at one time looked to the Lord to fill that need. I know that it is my responsibility to make sure that this country stays one nation under God.

INDIVISIBLE

This aspect of our country is one of the most amazing. Fifty states over many years combined to form one country. Each has its own personality and characteristics, from rolling hills to sugar white beaches, from wealthy populated states to poorer less populated states.

However, not only did the states combine to form one, but have continued to stay one country. In a time of country breakups, separations, and political disorder, the United States has remained one unified nation. Our country has proven that we are indivisible through the Civil War and the threat of secession. We have proven that we are indivisible through war, depression, scandal, death, and prosperity. This is also my civic responsibility, to make sure that this country continues to be one, and remain one nation under God, indivisible.

WITH LIBERTY

Liberty, the quality or state of being free, an action going beyond normal limits. Liberty is our freedom. This is what separates my country from the rest in the world. Sometimes we Americans take for granted our freedoms, but if we thought about life without those freedoms, we would see how lucky we are to live in the United States. I could not imagine life without my freedoms that are protected in the Bill of Rights. I could not imagine a day that I could not speak my mind and take advantage of my freedom of speech.

I could not imagine a day where I could not choose the church I attend and take advantage of my freedom of religion. I could not imagine a day where I could not pick up a paper and read a story that is uncensored and take advantage of the freedom of the press. I could not imagine a day that after turning eighteen I could not march down to the polls and choose my candidate and take advantage of my freedom to vote.

This is my largest responsibility to the United States. I know that if I do not stand up for my freedoms they could be taken away. I know that it is my responsibility to keep this nation one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty.

AND JUSTICE

Thank heavens I live in a country where you are innocent until proven guilty. Thank heavens I live in a country where you have due process of the law and a trial by jury of your peers. This country has one of the most effective judicial systems in the world, if not the best.

Our citizens enjoy the utmost of due process through our appeal system. We believe in protecting our honest citizens by punishing those convicted and by acquitting those who are innocent. This is one of the most important responsibilities I possess. It is my responsibility as a juror, a future lawyer, and judge to maintain the judicial system that we have. I will make sure that we stay one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice.

FOR ALL

For you and for me. For teachers, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, carpenters, and ministers. For Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, and members of all faiths. For Indians, Caucasians, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans. For everyone. In other countries there are groups that are still today discriminated against. In our country all people have an equal opportunity to become a success or a failure.

We all have equal protection of the law and the same rights and responsibilities. We are all free to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This was once a problem in our country, but we Americans realized that it was our responsibility to stop the discrimination in our country and we did. We worked to keep this one nation under God, with liberty, and justice for all. This is America, and to me it is my civic responsibility to uphold these beliefs, values, and freedoms. This is a responsibility that I will accept and use to better this great country. I love the country I live in, and I do not want to see it fall. It is up to me to make sure that it stays the great country that it is today.

The above article appeared in the June-July 1994 issue of the The Scottish Rite Outlook, Valley of Pensacola, Florida.