2023 Voice of Democracy Essay

- 12/24/2023

VFW Post Post 4103 is pleased to announce the winner for the 2023 Voice of Democracy Essay:

Evelyn Rodriques.

Evelyn is a 10th grade student at Summit Shasta in Daly City, CA.

Her essay is below.

What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?

Freedom of speech, religion, and press. The very First Amendment of our Constitution. A liberty that numerous people, including myself, often take for granted. As American Citizens, the 10 Amendments are an integral part of our God-given rights. Living in these conditions often creates a false pretense that individuals in other parts of the world are also blessed with these privileges. Regretfully, however, this is not the case. Now more than ever, I am realizing the true implications of these rights. The current conflict and chaos in the world highlights how the Bill of Rights is the most significant attribute of our democracy, as it provides us with safety and Freedom.

I initially discovered the Bill of Rights in my 8th-grade history class. My peers and I spent a mere week memorizing the amendments for a quiz to deliberately forget them the following week. I am contrite to say that the majority of the class viewed learning about the Bill of Rights as a chore we needed to complete to get a shiny A+ on our report cards, in lieu of learning the true meaning.

As I lay in bed writing this speech, my heart aches at my ignorance. I reflect on how over 1,000 Israelis and Palestinians were killed just today, with about 5,000 more injured (Al Jazeera). Innocent men, women, and children are being murdered and stripped of their Freedom, safety, and security, a clear violation of our Bill of Rights. Ellen Wulfhorst from Reuters observes, "More than a third of the world's population, or 2.6 billion people, live in nations and territories gripped by repression, corruption, and human rights abuses[...]" (Reuters). Writing this very speech utilizes our First Amendment, however, it is a task many are not free to do. As reflected in the Middle East, oppression and the theft of human rights results in unwarranted death and destruction. This situation highlights how crucial the Bill of Rights is to our society and Freedom.

The Bill of Rights was established following the Revolutionary War, a situation not unlike the conflict at hand. The Bill protects the rights of American Citizens and our Nation; The same rights our veterans fought for and, in many cases, gave their lives to protect. Due to their sacrifice, I am able to achieve more in my life. The sense of security you all have provided me with has allowed me to advocate for my peers in my school community as class president, and, on a larger scale, voice my opinions about women's rights, racism, climate change, equality, and so much more. As many people in the world struggle with their rights to Freedom of speech, I have been blessed with a free public education that teaches me how to use my voice to advocate for myself and those around me whose voices have been silenced.

Your service and role in instilling the Bill of Rights is why I can speak my mind and be whomever I choose. Your love for our country is the reason I am safe, happy, and living a prosperous life. These days, love is thrown around as such a casual term. We love pizza and ice cream, but this, this is a different type of love. A famous writer, Gilbert K. Chesterton, once said, "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." I may not be the best at expressing myself, but I know this to be true: You are all heroes. You all endured so much to pave the way for me and future generations to come. You have provided us with the opportunity to thrive by exploring our passions, giving back to our communities, and solving pressing world problems due to our ability to prosper given civil rights. Moving forward, I will count every blessing I have. I will never take these rights for granted again, and I hope to educate others about this so they may never make the same mistake I have. Thanks to you, we truly live in the land of the free! Thank you all for your service.

Work Cited

"Death Tolls Soar as Fighting between Hamas and Israel Rages.” Israel-Palestine Conflict News, Al Jazeera, 9 Oct. 2023,


Wulfhorst, Ellen. "A Third of World Population Lives in Nations without Freedoms - Rights Group.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 27 Jan. 2016,