Marion High School sophomore Caitlyn Maloney composed this first-place essay for the Voice of Democracy competition sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6958 in Marion and its Ladies Auxiliary.
Pride, Webster’s Dictionary defines this five-letter word as a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
However, a simple definition cannot describe the word that is buried in our hearts and embedded in our soul. Pride is a matter of perspective. Pride is being able to live with the consequences of your actions and when asked if you could go back and do it again, would you reply yes? One of the topics of pride that is continually debated on is the military. In serving the same country where our men and women went through 36 days of hell on Iwo Jima to finally provide the retribution that was deserved from the attack on Pearl Harbor, to avenge the lost lives when terrorists flew two 747s into the twin towers, a merciless attack on American soil. Pride in the military is alive not only on the hearts of soldiers but in the hearts of American citizens as well.
My dad was in the United States Navy for 10 years. He is now serving as a private contractor through L3 and works very closely alongside various branches of the military. My dad works on the planes that fly cover for the ground troops. With their technology they can see underground weapons caches and IEDs’ locations which are then transmitted to the convoy on the ground. Since my dad started this job in Iraq, they have lost no men traveling in the convoys that their planes fly cover for. In addition, they have located many of the high-value-target terrorists. My dad told me that one of the greatest sources of pride in his life is the fact that he is serving in our military and making a difference while doing so.
When I was a little girl, I always dreamed about enlisting in the air force and having the honor to serve my country. When I was thinking about it, the first thing I always thought of was my country and to keep my fellow countrymen safe. Looking back, I realize that the fact that I even had the opportunity to enlist if I wanted to was in itself a great pride. Our soldiers are serving the greatest nation on earth and many of us take that for granted. They don’t have to worry about fighting for the next dictator that comes along or fighting for your country only to have it plunged back into darkness by an unjust ruler. They rest in the knowledge that when they return home, they are greeted by freedom that they helped preserve, rights that they helped protect and the fact that they can go or do anything they want after that. For this reason I have great respect for our military men and women. Whenever I see a man or woman in the garb of one of the branches of the U.S. military I am filled with a sense of pride. I’m not serving but the fact that they are willing laying down their lives after years of intense physical and mental training brings tears to my eyes.
Pride is something that cannot be defined. It is something that we hold in our hearts and carry to others throughout our lives. Is there pride in serving in our military? Well, that’s a question that you are going to have to ultimately answer for yourself, but, for me, there is and always will be.
— caitlyn maloney