By Emma MacAdam, website editor
Students from Saegertown high school recently competed in the Pennsylvania American Legion Essay Contest through Legion Post 205 in Saegertown. This year’s topic was “What does the 26th Amendment mean to me?”
The Saegertown Legion is actively involved in the essay contest, which is in its 86th year. “Essays show the community that the American Legion supports education in all subjects,” Post 205 Commander Dan Cole said. “Your participation is an indicator for the American Legion on views held by students.”
Luthea Sweeney was the first place winner. She was excited to receive this title. “It’s nice to see your work pay off. This contest was a nice reminder that my words count,” Sweeney said. Her essay will now move on to the district level judging and possibly beyond. “The essay definitely wasn’t easy to write, but I enjoy writing, so the essay was by no means difficult.”
Runners up were Brady Greco, Maggie Braymer, Noel Williams, and senior Cassidy Boylan. “I enjoyed the topic as someone who was a new voter this year,” Boylan said. “I saw it as another opportunity to win money for college.”
All the winners received monetary awards and certificates presented to them by Principal Tom Baker and English teacher Stacey Hetrick. Sweeney’s award-winning essay is reprinted here.
“What does the 26th Amendment mean to me?”
By Luthea Sweeney
The 26th Amendment holds great importance to me. This particular amendment is vital in the formation of our future. The ability to have a hand in deciding your future is a fantastic opportunity and responsibility each person acquires at the age of eighteen. To me, the 26th Amendment holds the key to the creation of all future generations and is vital to the continued prosperity of America.
Generally speaking, the 26th Amendment gives you the right to vote when you are 18 years old. This amendment was ratified in only four days holding the record for the fastest passed amendment in history thus far. This amendment, ratified on July 1, 1971 was brought to light by the Vietnam War. This popular amendment surrounded the idea that if you’re old enough to fight and die for your country, you’re old enough to have a say in who holds office in your country.
The 26th Amendment, in my personal opinion, is one of the most significant amendments developed in U.S. history for the younger generations. We have the right and ability to impact our future at the click of a button. “Millions of young Americans were extended the right to vote, empowering more young people than ever before to help shape our country.” This excerpt from Barack Obama’s script summarizes how the 26th Amendment affected the younger generation as a whole. As an 18-year-old, you are viewed as an adult in the eyes of the court. With this newfound independence and responsibility, you now are responsible for your own actions and how they affect the people surrounding you. Along with these new responsibilities, you attain a sense of power and control over your future by obtaining the right to vote. People who are proud of their country and have respect and compassion for their leaders will support our growing economy. Said citizens will respect the leaders they had a hand in inaugurating.
Today, children are maturing faster than ever before due to the effects of technology and society. When the 26th Amendment was first being ratified, the idea was to give rights to those fighting and dying for their country; however, I personally believe the 26th Amendment holds more importance today than it did in 1971. In today’s society it isn’t unusual to see a small child with some sort of device in their hand that holds access to the internet. Children are exposed to political commercials on everyday applications like YouTube, Pinterest, Spotify, etc. It’s safe to say that children know more now about the world around them via internet access versus the children alive in 1971. This growing knowledge develops significantly in teenagers and helps them form clear opinions of who they do and do not support. Teenagers, in general, want to change the world and mold it to fit their opinions and perspective. Once these teens feel they have a sense of voice by voting, they can use their creativity and imagination to help mold the world.
Each amendment holds great importance to the establishment of the American brand and how our county functions today. However, the 26th Amendment holds a special space in my heart. The ability to vote and the right to die for your county go hand and hand. Younger generations now have a voice and can use creativity and pride to mold their future. This newfound sense of importance found in the hearts of younger generations is integral to the development of our future. We, as the next generation of voters, have the ability to help decide who represents us. That is the core of America.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School