My Freedom, My Future, My America

September 05, 2009|By ABIGAIL YEAGER

Editor's note: On July 7 at the Hagerstown Tea Party, the finalists in the My Freedom, My Future, My America speech contest presented their speeches. Over five Sundays in August and September, The Herald-Mail will publish the speeches given by the five finalists.

Today's speech was presented by Abigail Yeager, an 18-year-old student at Frostburg (Md.) State University who plans to graduate in the spring of 2011. She is a 2008 graduate of Broadfording Christian Academy and lives in Hagerstown.

Among the things that have been necessary to humankind are laws. Laws keep people in large groups from doing things that are detrimental to the group as a whole and encourage peaceful living. However, humankind also needs freedoms, and I think two of the most important freedoms are freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

These freedoms keep the government under control, and much like controlling an addiction, if one can identify and admit to the problem, one can fix it. As long as the public has the freedom to say what they want, about what they choose, when they choose to say it, the government will be hard-pressed to become completely corrupt.


If I can say whatever I want, people can hear my thoughts and be able to consider situations in a new light. If others who are privy to different information than I can discuss it in public forums, I may become aware of necessary actions. If my freedoms are censored, none of these things are possible, and if people are not held accountable for their actions, their actions will become less and less moral as time passes.

These freedoms are also necessary for my chosen career. Because I am majoring in English to become an editor, losing either the freedom of speech or freedom of the press would not only affect my life as far as what the government can or cannot get away with, but I would also have a decreased chance of having a job. These freedoms are necessary to my future because my potential occupation will require the ability to publish writings that the government may or may not agree with.

The public must be able to read and hear ideas that may not always have governmental approval, or else there is nothing to differentiate between the ideas of the government and the ideas of the people. There is nothing wrong with the two sets of ideas matching, but the government should reflect the ideas of the people, not vice versa.

These freedoms do not just involve the ability to say or write what you like, however. The people must have the ability to give their thoughts to the government. If the people do not have this capability, they must instead use what is available to them to get their message across.

The Boston Tea Party, which protested the fact that the colonies were being taxed without colonist representation, is a prime example. In this case, the colonists used their actions instead of their words to make the point that they would not be ruled without having their own ideas considered.

Our history, as Americans, is filled with similar examples. This is also why we are here today. The reason for our assembly is to protest the fact that President Obama, according to the TEA Party Web site, made decisions that have caused the "2009 budget (to grow) to a deficit of $1.8 trillion, more than four times higher than last year's all-time high and 50 percent of total budget." Because we also have the freedom to gather in public places, and to say what we want, we have the ability to protest President Obama's actions.

In the end, I think that the freedoms of speech and press are two of the most important freedoms that we as Americans have. As both a reader and a writer, I know that words have power, both from the person writing and for the person reading. The founding fathers knew this and wrote the Declaration of Independence. If a group of people still have their freedoms, they are able to use their words as a rallying point or as a weapon to expose corruption.

In these freedoms, our other freedoms are involved. If we do not have the right to bear arms and we want that right, words have the power to take that idea and make it into a law. If we do not have the right to gather in public places, but we have the power to write or speak as we choose, we have the power to demand that right.

Our freedoms of speech and the press are what give us the ability to choose who we are as a nation and change that identity as "WE, the people ..." decide.

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