Local first place winner, of the VFW Auxiliary Voice of Democracy contest, Madelyn Tangen, has won the district contest and now moves onto the state competition. She is the first local winner to achieve this goal, according to Diane Rux, VFW Auxiliary Ninth District President.
Tangen's essay went up against 26 other competitors and is now one of nine to be judged at the state level. She was joined by her parents, ReNae and Bob Tangen, when she received her certificate from the local VFW Auxiliary. The awards ceremony is in Minneapolis in January.
The Voice of Democracy essay program was established in 1947 and provides high school students from across the country with the opportunity to win their share of $2.1 million in educational scholarships.
Tangen's winning essay is below:
American History: Our Hope for the Future Better is Yet to Come
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, ... secure the
blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."
The preceding quote is an excerpt of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of
America. That marvelous document is the Supreme Law of the Land and a basis of hope for all
those who read it. The hope that we as Americans can provide a better future for the next
generation is embedded in the Constitution and other documents that laid the foundation for what
our nation is today. That hope is a central driving force, and it has led us as a country to achieve
some incredible things. For without the dream of a better future America, what other reason is
there to improve the current one? From a glimmer in the eyes of the Founding Fathers, to the
resilience in the working class Americans today, we can trace this common aspiration throughout the glorious history of the Land of Liberty.
The Founding Fathers had an abundance of this central hope which presented itself in a variety
of ways. It became courage when they signed The Declaration of Independence. It was valor
amid the protests before, and the battles during, the Revolutionary War. It transformed into
perseverance while the harsh winters and a few bitter defeats occurred throughout this crucial
point in our history. But these early Americans clutched their hope tightly to their chests, and did
not relinquish their grip in the slightest until the war was well won.
The same inspiring ambition found in the hearts of the very first American citizens, can also be
found residing in all of our military personnel, from the past and the present. The soldiers' hope
exhibited itself as altruism during the battle of Normandy, as well as countless other conflicts. It
showed its true colors in their fighting spirit throughout both of the World Wars. It also became
endless devotion to their home country, while they were in and out of the line of duty. Through
these fearless fighters our united hope has held steadfast and is still available to all who reach for it today.
Working class Americans throughout history have also done their share of nurturing our
recurrent desire. They supported the war effort, and our country, by growing Victory Gardens in
the midst of World War Two. By honoring Memorial Day and Veteran's Day they show
admiration and respect for the soldiers that made it home, and for those who did not. It is this
hope that causes a family member to work long hours and parents to make countless sacrifices
for their children. Furthermore these amazing Americans have and continue to tirelessly
encourage each other to never give up hope, even when the outlook seems bleak.
All of these instances are just a handful of the many ways that America has shown her hope to
provide the next generation with a better future. From the very first Americans to the people
surrounding us today, we are all unified by our one common hope. In the words of James
Truslow Adams, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone". Even though that
quote is referring to the American Dream, I can't help but believe that it refers to the American
Hope as well. With those words I know I can rely on the past, and the present, to protect and
maintain this hope for the future. This incredible history leaves me with the assurance that an
even better future is yet to come.