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Democracy speeches focus on youth's role in future PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Winners in the Voice of Democracy speech contest are pictured from left, Sarah Heermann
first, Cody Fricke fourth, Jordan Zeiler second and Catrina Krueger third. All four read their
speeches during the Veterans Day program at HHS Thursday, Nov. 11.  —Enterprise photo

My Generation’s Role

By Sarah Heermann
First place

All Italians are in the mob, all southerners are rednecks, the French are the most romantic and all Americans are fat. Few people would agree with these stereotypes, but would you agree with the assumption that all teens are disrespectful? You shouldn’t. Teens can do amazing things. The adults that are now well known for their achievements were once teens, a phase where greatness is in growing action.

It is incontrovertible that the future belongs to us. We inherited it from the time we were born. Whether or not you like the idea that we will own it, it will happen. Not only because it is rightfully ours, but because there is no one to compete against us for it.

So when asked the question does my generation have a role in America’s future, there seems no other answer to me than yes, of course we do.

Generation Y has been assigned the unfortunate title of generation Y-Bother. We are known as the generation with more technology than ever before, with an attitude of arrogance. The popular trends of both music and clothing styles are outrageous and offensive, not to mention the way we dance.

Sounds like there is good reason to doubt our effective influence in America’s future doesn’t it? Or does it?

Do you find that your parents could easily substitute Generation Y with the name of their generation? We are the generation with more technology than ever before? Isn’t that true for all generations? It would be a shame to have less technology than the generation before you.

We have an attitude of arrogance? Of course we do. All teens have gone through that same illness but, it is as numerous and as brief as growing pains.

As far as dancing and music goes, parents have doubted that since music moved away from the classical symphony and words from sources other than monks were added. When I first heard this prompt I was disheartened. I have always taken pride in our elders’ approval.

It made me begin to wonder what adults think when they look at me. Do they see an egocentric teen and expect little? Before I even interact with you, will you already have judged me? It seems the generations above us are doubtful, perched in wait for the day we will ruin their country.

Why do you sit motionless, and choose to only watch the notorious? Watch those of us that excel, the go-getters that will soon be in the most important and demanding roles.

Just as there are Italians that in no way are connected to the mob, there are a surprising number of teens that do not buy into what they are stereotyped to be. Think about your church’s youth group members, of all the local organizations that help with community projects such as 4-H and FBLA. These organizations are not formed to keep teens out of trouble, they are organized and successfully run by teens because they want to make a difference; they have goals and are preparing for their future role in America.

Many successful adults today were rowdy and rude teens back in their day. All of us change, all of us grow, and all of us will have a role.

Some of my generation will be doctors, lawyers, teachers, policemen, firefighters; all of the professions that we think of as being powerful and heroic. But we as a generation should never forget to fill one of the most important roles of all. The role to protect our country.

It is a role that requires the pressure of a doctor, knowing that people may die or live due to your decisions; a role that requires the critical thinking and compromising skills of a lawyer; and a role that takes the bravery of risking your life for others that firemen and policemen possess. It is the ultimate role, and I look with pride as I see my generation preparing to enroll in the military.

Throughout the countless years of human existence, there has not been a failure of a generation yet. Each has made advances in culture and technology, bringing us to the current generation, the one that is on the brink of entering adulthood. Generation Y.

We are the generation that is stepping up to the plate and filling the many roles. From hamburger flipper, to lawyer, to the military, we will find a place where each of us has a role. My generation will fill in the gaps left behind, not leave America an empty shell of what it once was, but build onto it, making it a country that is truly ours.

We are the future, and as Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, make it a good one.”


We are the Future

By Jordan Zeiler
Second place

The American novelist Pearl S. Buck once said, “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation.”

Buck is simply saying that young people are fearless; they are willing to attempt anything, and make it happen.

Take a look around you. Look at your peers. Think about how they will affect America’s future. A better question yet is how will you as an individual play a role in America’s future?

Right now, our nation is in economic crisis. More and more Americans are being “let go.” Do you really want to be one of those people who is being interviewed about how life is hard because you can’t keep a job? Maybe you do, but most people would rather be living a good, happy life, owning a house, and supporting themselves and perhaps their family. It is up to our generation, the youth of the nation, to make a difference for the future.

Older generations frown upon ours. They believe that youth are spoiled and will have no effect on America. How does that make you feel?

Some of you may be laughing inside because you find that statement completely irrational. Others may be feeling angry that our elders would assume we are simply nobodies.

As for me, I am angry about this statement. After all, it is us who are going to be taking care of them in the future, right?

America’s future depends on us. After we graduate high school or college, a majority of us will join the workforce. We will become teachers, doctors, architects, lawyers, and believe it or not, someone somewhere in the U.S. who is a teenager right now, will some day be the president of the United States. Who knows, it may even be you or the person sitting next to you, or maybe it could be me.

Last year, as we watched members of Holyoke High School cross the stage at graduation, our principal summarized their future plans. Of course, the majority planned on going on to college, but a select few were recognized as planning on joining the military.

The youth of America are going to be defending the nation in the future. The combat troops may have been removed from Iraq, but there is no guarantee that the United States will not enter some other future foreign war. Who is going to be out there on the front, risking their lives for our great country?

Look around. It may be your best friend, your brother or sister, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and if you are a parent, it could be your child.

My uncle Randy, who is only about three years older than us, is being moved to Texas for two weeks of training. In January, he will be deployed to Iraq, then go to Afghanistan.

When he came to visit my family shortly before he left, he mentioned that he was nervous, excited and scared all at the same time.

To me, he is honorable. Just three years ago, he was a senior in high school making the decision to join our nation’s military. This is just one example of how our generation is playing a role in America’s future.

You may be faced with the same decision to make as Randy when you are a senior. Maybe some of you have already made this decision. My younger cousins look up to Randy.

Some day, you will be looked up to, or maybe children already look up to you. The other day when we left for state softball, the team ran down the hallways of the elementary school, and to see the looks on those children’s faces was remarkable.

They were looking up to us. At that point in time, we were the most amazing people, just because we made it to the state tournament. In the future, you may be looked upon as a hero. How will you handle that type of title?

Whether you become a soldier, a teacher or even just a parent, you will be looked up to by younger generations. The way you carry yourself will affect how they carry themselves.

We must look at younger generations and think to ourselves, “This is America’s future.”

Our biggest role for tomorrow is ultimately shaping our nation’s future. In other words, we will be training generations beneath us, which is a very important task to accomplish.

Some adults may look at our generation as spoiled and having no incentive, but it is their fault. They are the ones who have shaped us.

Our generation must see this as a lesson learned. We cannot spoil the minds of lower generations for they are the ones who will take our places in the future. So if we want America’s future to be bright, we must take the responsibility of training the youth to make our future as we want it to be.

Facing the future can be scary. Well, we may as well get over the fright now and leap head first into our hopes and dreams for America and how we will affect its future.

In his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

So, I will ask you, What can you do for America’s future? You may become the president of the United States, or a mentor shaping the minds of younger generations.

No matter what you do, you have an effect on our great nation’s future. After all, we are America’s future.


Our Role

By Catrina Krueger
Third place

Does my generation have a role in society? Of course it does. It’s impossible not to.

Our role could be through our actions, our thoughts, our feelings, our words and our judgments or lack thereof. Voting is an excellent example of this.

Both the people who take the time and effort to vote play just as vital of a role as those who don’t when it comes to deciding who our president is.

Whether we like it or not, my generation will and does have a role in America’s future, and I believe it will be for the better.

At one time, the name of our country stood for something great. It still does, thanks to the many true, honest and brave citizens. However, it has become tainted with greed, dishonesty, rudeness and an utter lack of patriotism and morals.

Just as every generation comes with new technologies, new miracle cures and new fashions; it is also assailed with multiple problems. I feel that the largest of them are morals and patriotism.

My generation’s role will be to dust off our forgotten ethics and morals as well as to ignite the now dull patriotism.

Patriotism is defined as love for one’s nation. People of all ages do not respect or care for our America much any more. We ridicule and rebel her at every possible time. Not that change and rebellion are bad things. Without them we wouldn’t be a nation. However, rebellion for the sake of rebellion is only hurtful.

We are not just a nation, but also an idea, a virtue and an ideal. We stand for freedom. Not only that but for the men and women that died fighting for that idea. That, if nothing else, is worth loving and saluting. Without the love of her people a country isn’t strong or productive.

Along with patriotism are morals. Many people have forgotten what compassion, courtesy and the simple love for your neighbors actually looks and feels like.

My friend was in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, unloading his purchases. He looked across the row of cars and noticed a lady struggling to unload her groceries. Without a second thought, he rushed over there and lifted a heavy box out of the cart into her trunk. The woman turned around and yelled “What do you think you are doing?” He quietly replied that he thought she looked like she needed help and didn’t mean any harm.

She got a strange look on her face and replied that she wasn’t going to pay him. What has this world gotten to when a simple kind deed is unwanted and needs money for it?

It saddens me to even think of this story. It should be our moral duty to love our neighbor as ourselves, but that has gone by the wayside. This is the same fate for other simple ethics and morals.

We don’t trust or care for each other or our nation as we used to and it is tearing our country apart. It is up to us to change America. I have a voice in America and I plan on using it.

Thomas Jefferson said, “We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.”

We can learn from preceding generations, but they cannot choose our generation’s path. If my generation is going to change the future of America, we are going to have to do it ourselves. No one can make our decisions for us.

My generation is often referred to as the lazy, why bother generation. Although this may be true, and we will probably wait until the last possible moment; I truly believe that my generation can and will help change the future of America for the better.

I am a voice and a role in America’s future. I am the doctors and the nurses. I am the business managers and the secretaries. I am the cashiers and the custodians. I am the humble farmer and the proud politician. I am the leader, the follower, the rich, the poor, the mighty and the meager. I am the next generation. I am America.


Generation Y Bother

By Cody Fricke
Fourth place

Does my generation have a role in America’s future? Wait...What? That’s an odd question. It’s a no-brainer really.

Each generation doesn’t have a choice whether they want to have a role or not. One could argue that my generation, generation why bother, could just cease to care and just let the nation fall apart due to our laziness, lack of work ethic and our absence of respect and integrity. I label that person closed-minded.

I see potential all around me, whether it is in my classmates or in other students. I can’t deny the fact there is a record high percentage of people within my generation who have been destroyed by the lowered expectations of the leading generation. Despite the fact we have already been pre-destined to fail by many, I keep hope within my generation.

Are we so different than everyone else? Are we the only generation who struggled with drugs and alcohol? I still hear the old timers sipping on coffee talking about Woodstock. The only generations consumed by sex? I think the term used to be shagging.

The only ones who disrespected our elders? The flappers from the roaring twenties sure didn’t make their parents proud.

The point I am trying to make is that every generation has been predicted to fail at one point or another. If I asked someone to go find me a generation in history who was never doubted I am confident they wouldn’t return with an answer.

It only takes a few out of many to make a generation great. We have a country full of murderers, rapists and thieves. Each generation contributes equally as well as others. But we don’t focus on them. We focus on politicians, good people and all our accomplishments to determine the quality of our generations.

I am fully convinced it takes nothing more than appointing a president who can fix America’s problems to be proclaimed one of the greatest generations of all time.

Give us a chance, why don’t you. You know that phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well don’t judge my generation by the petty mistakes we make as adolescents. Our childhood is just our cover. We have a lot more to learn and a lot more to show.

The most ironic part is the generation before us controls us throughout our adolescent age. We learn by example and take the morals our parents teach us. Does that even make us to blame in the least? Why should we be blamed when we have been raised so?

We do things the easy way because that is what we were taught, not what we chose. We are not completely blameless but we are often blamed for things that we cannot help. But as my generation matures, we get to shape our own future, and then after we have shaped our own lives we can try to shape our generation.

I like to think that history wouldn’t have changed, even if we switched the generation at the time with a different one. The problem is, we don’t face the same problems as any other generation, we have to deal with our own problems.

I believe this because every generation has individuals that step up, take over, and do what they think is best in any given situation. Just as preceding generations have done their best, I have no reason to believe that we will not do the exact same thing.

It is easy to criticize us before we have even been able to show you what we are made of. As Americans we aspire to be like our parents. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. And just as our parents defended that freedom, we will do the same. So America, what do you say. Let us show you what we got?