VFW Scholarship Essay

The Post Scholarship Committee chose one of the four winners’ essays to share with our membership as representative of the work of our applicants and winners. That essay follows. 

What freedom means to me and how our Constitution establishes and maintains a culture of freedom in our country 

by Taylor Schindler 

During this uncertain time we are living in, with the pandemic and the absurdly disrespectful events that occurred at the Capitol building on January 6 of this year, recognizing freedom is more important than ever. Growing up in a military family, I have been taught the importance of freedom, as well as respecting the grounds on which freedom is upheld. Freedom is fought for everyday by the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect ours. However, I often find that it’s taken for granted while the true definition of freedom gets twisted to one’s beliefs. To me, freedom is, first and foremost, being able to walk outside without fearing I might walk into a war zone, but it’s also much more than that. In today’s world, it’s important to recognize that freedom is having the right to speak your beliefs freely without fear of being reprimanded. When the First Amendment was adopted into the Constitution in 1791, it stated “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech…”. The moment this was placed into the Constitution, Americans had the eternal responsibility to uphold this amendment in order to keep the United States a place that respects and protects the government, the people that serve for the country and all citizens. However, it’s clear that many citizens forget to acknowledge the laws and amendments they swore to live by. 

Therefore, the Constitution provides the foundation and framework for freedom, but only we can maintain that freedom. Our adherence to the first amendment needs to take place in everyday things like listening to differing viewpoints with respect. After all, we pledge “one nation, under God” so it’s our responsibility to preserve the foundation on which this country was founded and ensure that we hold each other accountable to ourselves and God in respecting and following the Constitution. We need to work to respect, honor and protect our rights with the Constitution by voting, reading and being educated. By doing this, we can honorably recognize and protect our freedom without taking it for granted. 

My father and both grandpas (Michael Schindler- Naval Weapons Station in California/tour in Indian Ocean, Ronald Rapacz – Vietnam and George Reid – Vietnam) served in the US Navy. With their guidance, I have learned that it’s up to us to earn our freedom in any way we can, whether it’s serving to help those less fortunate than us, listening to differing opinions with respect, or becoming involved to better our communities, it is all important. My knowledge in this area has grown through my childhood as my dad works hard everyday with his non-profit organization Operation Military Family, as well as many other organizations and individuals, to ensure that our service men and women get the help they need when they come home from protecting our freedom. My immersion into this community has allowed me to realize that protecting our freedom deserves non-stop recognition.