This I Believe

Carmen - Greeley, Colorado
Entered on February 14, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

The Importance of “Old George”

The proud eyes, silently regarding me with the intensity of their wisdom, combined with the austere brow, powdered hair, and faultless cravat, confronted me with a looming monument of American history -stamped so casually onto the wafer-thin paper between my fingers. I smiled wryly at the perfect image in my hand, saddened again by the realization that this was as close to American history as some people ever come. The lack of emphasis on our country’s history is crushing our society into a weakened people, too ignorant of their foundation to appreciate its existence. It is my solemn belief that in order to preserve our strong nation in the uncertainties of the future, a careful knowledge of her beginning is the only way to develop the love and respect she deserves, and the sold method for learning how to guide her into the days ahead.

This belief proved its validity when I returned from my first trip to England. During those two weeks, I immersed myself wholeheartedly in the culture, history, and delicate personality of Great Britain, but upon arriving back in the states, I was horrified to feel like a foreigner abandoned on a harsh continent. The gentility of life had failed to accompany me back to the states, and I became suddenly aware of the necessity of developing a great appreciation for my country, if I were to again find my contentment. So I studied. In the beginning, I forced myself to crack open the dusty pages of a nonfiction work, but after a chapter, the courageous deeds accomplished, and the astounding bravery required to even exist during those days, had so captivated my imagination, that the final pages were reached long before my curiosity was satisfied. I seized a wealth of books, and thrilled to touch the pulse of history these accounts presented me with. No longer was history composed solely of dates and events, as high school classes insist, but the actual characters of the past emerged from behind the curtain of neglect, to share with me their memories, stories, and secrets. Even the aloof figures of the founding fathers crumbled from their brief definitions in our textbooks, to become living, breathing, leaders, politicians, and spymasters-all for the cause of liberty!

Because of my research, the past is ever with me, like an ancient compass quietly waiting in my pocket, until the day I pull it forth to consult its wisdom. The more I strip away the cold, modern facades of history’s famous and see the genuine lives waiting to be remembered, the more I am enabled to live in zealous pursuit of my dreams, with a continuous hope for the future, in a true Quixotic fashion not so different from the philosophy of those who gave our country life. This is more than a theory yet to be proved. It is a philosophy I can forever turn to, and boldly declare, “This I believe.”

In conclusion, I am left with the overwhelming necessity of combining the past into our everyday agendas, and I am confident that the next time I whip out “Old George” to pay for my morning Starbucks, I will pause a moment to remember the loving hands that molded my nation, and after looking every carefully, I just may see a slight smile tugging at the corners of those drawn lips, melting the plaster in which they have been so rigidly set.