Essays and Lyrics - SERVE

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The following is an essay submitted by Matthew Symmes, as an Eighth Grader at St. John's School, entitled "Serve".  [Editor's note:  Mr. Vigil, mentioned in the essay, is the computer science teacher at SJS and a Vietnam vet.]

People ask me why I want to serve. They say things like, why do it? There are thousands of others who will pick up the slack. Why do it? You have such a promising future. One person said, but life is so fickle, who knows what you will have missed. Freedom is fickle too, and I do not want to miss any part of it. 

I want to serve because of my grandfather, who willingly put his life on the line, even though he had a belle waiting at home. He went up into the air against things unknown: battleships, enemy fighters, and all the lead the Japanese could muster. He is a hero to me and a hero to those all around him; a hero for standing up for what was right. I want to serve because of the Mayflower and the Griffin, upon which my ancestors came to America, because without them we would be lost. I want to serve because of the tears on Mr. Vigilís face, the tears of coming home to a land that should have respected him and instead cast him out like he was an alien. I want to serve because of the memorials, the solemn reminder that freedom is something one must keep at a dire cost. I want to be one of the people who could say I fought for the United States of America, and made sure you were safe. I want to serve because I want to show all those people who said I was too small, or too sensitive, or not cool enough to succeed. I want to come home and have a new respect for the red, white, and blue. I want to serve because of all the people who I walk by every day, and although I do not know who they are, they probably helped out this country in its time of need. I want to serve because of Herb Brooks, who beat the Soviet Union in something that was much more than a hockey game. I want to serve because of the millions of people who everyday are forced to live under constant fear of tyranny and death. I want to fight to save them from their fear. I want to understand all those tears that came streaming down the veterans faces in Veterans Day Chapel. I want to understand why some men who I perceive as impenetrable and stony will suddenly break down in tears as the colors pass in front of them. I want to understand why a soldier confined to a wheelchair tries to stand as the body of a friend passes by, someone that could be him. But most of all, I want to understand freedom.


© 2004 Matthew Symmes

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