Thursday, February 3, 2011

America – The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

This essay was written by my friends Balaji and Priya's son Yash. I wanted to share this with you as it is so beautifully written. Yash was 11 years old when he wrote this.

The topic for the contest was "America: The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave". This was the winning entry.....1st place Chapter, 1st place State, 1st place Eastern Division (Washington D.C., MD,NJ,DE, PA,MA,VA ) and 1st place National.

America –
The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

As the sun inched forward, Sam felt his life ebb away. It was fitting, he thought. He lay in his own blood, the rifle still warm in his hand. The battle had only lasted three days, but had marred the land in red. Sam had broken through Pickett’s Charge, taking out many Confederates singlehandedly. When the first bullet pierced his flesh, he felt no fear or remorse. “If this was the price of freedom, so be it!”

It was pitch dark. Sam’s lungs were bursting. The smoke had enveloped everything, even the deafening screams. Pain seared through him. He was trapped. Chaos and terror was what he had walked into when he entered the building this morning, but there was no time to think. He rushed in to help the hundreds trapped above. Now, every breath was a labor. The building shuddered. He knew the end was near.

The color of his skin had destined Sam to toil in the fields, but Sam was not one to accept destiny. His faith that God had created all men equal, had driven him to loosen the shackles of slavery, and escape to Pennsylvania to join the Union. Braving the elements, and the risk of getting caught, Sam joined the Union Army. Three days of endless fighting, and all Sam wanted now was to sleep.

Sam woke up. It wasn’t the alarm or the baby. It was him … and a strange restless feeling. Even the coffee didn’t help. He checked in on the baby. She looked angelic sleeping in her mother’s arms. His wife, peacefully asleep, had never looked as beautiful as she did today. He couldn’t believe how fast the years had passed by – she had been his high school sweetheart. The trance was broken. The T.V. news reporter’s monotonous babble rose a few pitches. Sam turned around to watch the horror unfold.

The battlefield was marked by the dead and the dying. The Confederates and Union troops had clashed here mercilessly, but in death they became one, for they bled the same red.

The streets were red, dotted with fire trucks. Sam flashed his N.Y. Fire Department badge at the officer, and said, “Off duty!” He raced up the floors, bringing many to safety. The building shuddered. More screams. It was the last time that Sam went up that staircase.

The sun was up now, and so was the Union flag. Yes, it was fitting! The shackles of slavery were finally broken. Sam had beaten destiny. His last breath was his first of freedom. He was free at last.
Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg. July 3, 1863.

It was eerily silent, but Sam could hear his wife’s voice, and his daughter’s first word, “Da”. The building shuddered again. Sam closed his eyes. With a hand on his heart he began to softly sing, “The Star Spangled Banner”. His world came crashing down. World Trade Center, South Tower, New York. September 11, 2001.

Yash Balaji