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From left, Jack Fogel, president, Fleet Reserve Association Branch 294, and Stuart Litman, FRA Branch 294 Americanism Essay chairman, present a Certificate of Participation to Abigail Han in the 2018-’19 Americanism Essay Contest as first-place winner in the sophomore category. Han is a sophomore at Cumberland County High School. She was also presented with a $150 check. This year’s theme was “What Freedom of Speech Means to Me.” Her winning essay will be forwarded to the FRA Southeast Region to compete with essay winners from other branches. The regional winning essay is then judged against winners from other regions in the United States.

What Freedom of Speech Means to Me

By Abigail Han

Special to the Chronicle

Freedom of Speech is a phrase that Americans overlook. The freedom to speak is not saying what you want to say, it’s a privilege to say something that others can’t. Freedom of speech is the way to a better mindset, gives you the power of words, and will be a vital tool in times of change throughout society. 

Think about what freedom actually means. It goes back a long time ago to where our forefathers began. They wanted to have the freedom to speak against the king. Anyone who challenged the king and his rules could face severe punishment. Our founders wanted the people of America to have a fighting chance against anything they did not agree or follow. If they couldn’t fight physically, they had their words to speak for them. They envisioned freedom of speech as a pathway for Americans to voice their opinions without the worry of a threat or opposition. This is what makes America different from most countries. We are a democracy that allows the people to speak their views and take action. This is what makes it a special right for Americans. It’s a privilege to speak our feelings, and not be persecuted for our beliefs. Today, freedom of speech is just as important as it was many decades ago. It’s an important force that men and women use to fight against injustice, leadership, government, and anything in society that can be challenged.

I consider myself blessed to be born in a country where I have the right to voice my opinions without worry of my safety. Seeing American citizens use their special rights to fight for what they believe in is rewarding. Out there in other countries, many people do not have the rights that we have. There are problems in this world that people can say nothing against. The freedom of speech is what gives us normal people the power to fight against those who are higher and more powerful than us. It’s a chance to make a difference.

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