Senior Lilly Roberson recently became Heritage Hall's seventh consecutive recipient of the Good Citizens Program and Scholarship Contest award presented by the Col. John Starke, Sr. Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The award recognizes qualities of good citizenship, including dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism. In addition to demonstrating strong character, candidates must complete an extensive application, as well as a timed essay on a topic provided at the actual time of writing. Roberson submitted the following.
Topic: “Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It.” Focus Question: “How do the combined actions of so many good citizens keep our nation moving forward?”
In a matter of days, the United States will embark upon a familiar, yet uncertain, process. The 2020 election is grander than a race for the Presidency; it is an exemplary process of how our founding documents have instilled the revered beliefs of ‘promoting the general welfare’ and ‘forming a more perfect union.’ Our American heritage is the living embodiment of daily actions taken by our citizenry and government. Whether that takes form in daily conversations regarding a local ballot initiative or controversial legislation passed at the federal level, our nation, as we know it, is working as our beloved founding fathers had envisioned. The legacy left at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 is in perfect action as we enter an era encompassed with civil discourse and activism on all variants of the political spectrum.
As I proudly walked down my 4th-grade hallway on Election Day in 2012 wearing an Obama t-shirt, I received both compliments and unfriendly stares from friends. To my surprise, it was later announced that Mitt Romney had won our school-wide election. I had come from a home in which politics were frequently discussed but never argued. In a sense, I had developed my political opinions in a relatively moderate echo chamber. Growing up with a spirit of civic responsibility, I ventured with my parents to every election possible, and always took an “I voted” sticker for myself. Sparking my political journey so early in life has allowed me to develop my morals and grow in my political beliefs, despite familial or outside influence. This real-life exposure to the American Political Machine has unequivocally shaped my lifestyle choices and allowed me to solidify my future ambitions.
Beyond myself, it has become possible to rekindle these same conversations I grew up within both the classroom and extra-curricular discussions. Hall of Representatives, a political discussion club I oversee, gives students a medium to express their own political beliefs. This platform is uncommon in high school, but through my passion for civil discourse, I have been able to present timely topics that engage students and faculty in politically driven discussions. Civic engagement starts with education, and without that, an uninformed electorate can lead to political turmoil. As my peers and I turn 18, I have seen close friends become enthusiastic to cast their ballots, and we all champion each other, regardless of who that ballot is for. Through a voter registration drive, I was able to register 13 of my classmates and allow them to engage in a process I grew up with. This essence of American responsibility and collective action to better our future is the path to maintaining our esteemed democracy. My generation brings a spirit of camaraderie to the legislative table, and as the understanding that everyone’s votes impact our future, we collectively become increasingly active in the public sphere.
Preserving our American legacy requires a beautiful combination of active education and an unparalleled spirit of civic engagement. The continuation of American democracy fundamentally relies upon each citizen’s personal responsibility to uphold the specific ideals they find pressing and the utilization of an active and enlightened voice. Regardless of the original intent of our founding documents, the Framers conceptualized a nation adorned with political freedoms, and a spirit of democracy in each aspect of life.