I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be the First Amendment Essay Scholarship Winner. I am a graduate from Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee that has always had an ambition for writing. Since I was eight years old, my goal has been to hit the New York Times Bestsellers List, and I’m going to be attending Belmont University in the fall in order to achieve that goal. As my life has fallen apart, been rebuilt, and ceaselessly molded around me, two things have remained constant: I am going to be a writer, and Belmont is going to cultivate me into one. One day, when my name is hidden beneath the creases of well-loved cracked spines, or my words stained with strangers’ coffee, I will be tempted to be satisfied, but every fiber of my being will remind me that there is no end to the river of words within me, and I will continue to write them forever.
Freedom of Speech Makes America Great
As all nations inevitably do (the great ones especially so) the United States has evolved in many ways over the years, both to the benefit and the hindrance of its citizens, respectively. One very basic principle, however, has thankfully stayed constant as the country has reshaped around it: freedom. Americans value their freedom above all else, especially the freedom granted by the First Amendment, that of speech. It is this monumental doctrine for which the Founding Fathers would have willingly given their lives, and for which many Americans would—and many have—still die today. It is for this reason that the upstanding Phillip Miller Law firm has created a scholarship based on why free speech makes America great. As an aspiring writer, it is of indescribable importance to me, as well.
There are an astounding number of nations around the world that do not enjoy freedom of speech. Speaking out against the government under fearsome regimes like that of North Korea can result in torture, and likely death, of an entire family. It is difficult to believe that countries like this still exist in the twenty-first century, but that notion in and of itself is a testament to the greatness of our nation and the freedom that it protects. A government that protects its subjects’ right to speak out against it is the greatest display of selflessness that such a powerful body could possibly show. It is this selflessness that allows the people of the United States to return the favor by fueling their innovation back into the country and making it the greatest one in the world.
There is nothing more powerful than the human mind, and to be able to utilize it to its full potential is something that can only be achieved in a nation of free speech. Without this doctrine, there would be no classic works of literature, musical compositions, or art that influence the greatest minds that this world has ever seen. There would be no free press or media, no great films, no entertainment worthwhile. Free speech surrounds each and every American on a daily basis, and thus we take it for granted, but it is the sole foundation on which our lives are built. Children go to school to learn how to utilize their free speech in future occupations, and the most ambitious of them further utilize their free speech in these occupations in order to change the world. People like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would not be able to thrive in environments where they could not speak their minds. Fortunately, they were born in a great nation where they can.
From small Mom-and-Pop local businesses to the greatest innovators, free speech is the foundation of American intelligence, creativity, and happiness. It is the medium by which citizens of the United States can follow the path of the pursuit of happiness, as the Founding Fathers intended. Without this pillar holding up this great nation, we would be cowering in fear of an oppressive government, daydreaming of escape. It is freedom of speech that allows our daydreams to instead be influential enough to become realities.
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