The 2003 Patriot Prize
Essay Contest Winners
Sara Michelle Engbretson
Resurrection High School, Chicago, Illinois
The American Flag is to me the essence of the American Dream.
It stands for the opportunity to dream, the rights to life,
liberty and happiness, and the freedoms offered by a nation
The Stars and Stripes flew over the battlefields of
the revolution, where our forefathers seized their opportunities
to break free from Great Britain. It flew throughout the Civil
War, as the North and South came to blows over what the American
Dream means. It flew through World Wars I and II, as our troops
fought for our dreams and our ideals. It flew on September
11, 2001, while we as a nation struggled to redefine what
exactly our dreams and goals must become.
Old Glory flies
today over hospitals where we welcome into the world our nation's
newest citizens. It soars over cemeteries, where we honor
the memory of those Americans gone before us. It flies today
over parks and playgrounds, where children romp without fear,
pursuing happiness to its utmost.
The Star Spangled Banner
waves over our nation, from mountains, busy cities and peaceful
countryside. It is saluted by young and old, by rich and poor,
by representatives of every ethnicity in the world. The American
Flag is the embodiment of the American Dream.
Jeisun Charles Wen
University High School, Bloomington/Normal, Illinois
The shout of incensed voices grew as an American flag was
set ablaze. This scene is what countless angry protesters
reenact to show their resentment for the United States. Many
Americans are shocked by these violent acts, but I saw something
different. Although our flag was stripped of its dignity,
it was then I felt I finally understood the true meaning of
the flag and what it meant to me.
Our flag is a symbol. A symbol is a window that lets us see
the spirit of what it represents. Our flag is a symbol of
America. It stands as a promise of what America offers. That
promise lives in the hearts of the American people. It is
a promise that in this country, it is possible to truthfully
rectify the mistakes of our leaders. In this country, we never
have to fear persecution for worshiping the wrong god. In
this country, success is possible if only we pursue our dreams
with dogged determination.
It is a wonder how such a small flag can symbolize so much.
It is important to realize that the flag is not important
in itself. Rather, the values woven into its fabric are what
makes the flag so precious.Ignorant people may dishonor our
flag, but they miss the bigger point. Our flag is only a symbol
of the undying American spirit and that spirit cannot be incinerated,
trampled, or riddled with bullets. The flag I see will always
fly proud and tall.
Eva Sree Das
Mt. Zion High School, Mt. Zion, Illinois
Being the daughter of immigrants, the American flag means
a lot to me. My parents traveled to this country nearly 25
years ago from India, so that their children could have a
better life with more opportunities. When I look at the American
flag I see my life, better opportunities, I see freedom, hope,
and courage. When I look at the flag, not only do I see my
life, but also I see the ghosts of millions who have lived
and died for me. Our flag represents humanity; it flies high
and silently, rustling in the breeze, dedicated to liberty.
Old Glory has been carried into battle in faraway lands, always
for the cause of freedom. For the freedom of others and for
ours, we have left our dead in Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, on
the beaches of Normandy, on the slopes of Korea, and in the
jungles of Vietnam. Dont let it all be for nothing,
tell the brave they have all died for a worthwhile cause.
Be proud of what the Stars and Stripes represent, and display
it for all to see. Our flag shall fly forever as a symbol
of our freedom, as it did for our ancestors and as it shall
for our heirs. Our flag represents integrity and courage,
and may she always have the strength to keep herself free,
to remain a citadel of freedom and a beacon of hope to the
Alexis Nwamaka Nwankwo
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Illinois
I was twelve the first time I said goodbye to the American
flag and traveled to Nigeria for the summer. As I sat in the
gates waiting area, I felt beads of anxiety dripping
from my forehead. A young boy in the seat across from me sat
whining and tugging at his mothers sleeve. He had a
design of an American flag printed on his blue T-shirt. When
the flight was called, the travelers rushed over to the cheerful
attendant lady who collected tickets and my ticket accidentally
dropped from my hand. I bent down to pick it up, and from
the corner of my eye I could see the flag shirt boy, waving
goodbye to someone. As I disappeared into the long tunnel
that would soon separate me from my home for three months,
I could still see that flag on his shirt standing tall and
solemnly billowing in the wind.
The American flag is more than just a vibrant blend of red,
blue and white it is justice, loyalty, and liberty.
In Nigeria, a country that hungers to have a democratic political
system, social and religious dichotomy, and economic prosperity,
governmental corruption and social and religious dichotomy
tear this dream apart. When I first arrived in Nigeria, my
seven-year-old cousin greeted me by singing Americas
national anthem in his heavy accent. "Where did you learn
that?" I asked. "In primary school," he answered,
and continued singing "That our flag was still there
and I thought to myself, "Yes, its still here!!!"