Sophia Christine Kreklau of Wadena-Deer Creek High School won the Good Citizen Award from the Captain Robert Orr Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) in Brainerd.

The subject of the essay was "Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It." How has America advanced the cause of freedom in the rest of the world? Sophia received a certificate, wallet card, pin, and the book "Atlantic Cousins" was donated to her high school.

The Good Citizen Scholarship and Essay recognizes and rewards individuals who possess good citizenship qualities of dependability, service, leadership and patriotism in their homes, schools and communities. Sophia was selected because she demonstrates these qualities to an outstanding degree.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is a non-profit, non-political women's service organization dedicated to historic preservation, patriotism and education. Any woman over the age of 18 who can document her lineage to a Revolutionary War patriot is eligible for membership.

The Captain Robert Orr Chapter meets monthly in Brainerd and welcomes new members. For information contact Sue Duff-Erkel, 320-532-4333 or Chapter Registrar DeAnn Caddy, 218-820-0204.

Here's Kreklau's essay, titled: "Our American Heritage and Our Responsibility for Preserving It:

How has America advanced the cause of freedom in the rest of the world?"

When I hear the words "American Heritage," I think of our founding fathers and the people involved with creating this great nation.

We, as Americans, must show our respect and pride in how hard people have fought for this country and our rights and freedoms. Respecting and paying homage to our heritage is something not to be taken for granted. Many people pay respect and show support in their everyday lives: students learn about American history as a class in school. We keep our legacy and heritage alive that way, by showing younger generations the struggles people in our nation's past have gone through to get to where we are today and spread the history of our nation to school's across the world.

People around the globe learn the history of America. We prove day after day, no matter how hard times become, our nation stands together as one. We all come from the same background, showing characteristics of strength, integrity and pride in this land that the people of our nation worked so hard to build. We wouldn't be the nation we are today without those dreamers and leaders who made their presence known in the society of our nation. By showing our pride and respect for the freedoms we have the honor of possessing, we are able to model to other countries how standing as a whole and fighting for each other and our own beliefs has a massive effect on our lives as citizen's here in America.

Not to say that our country doesn't have hard times. Many people struggle in our nation, but we are always looking for ways to better our communities. When we struggle, we stay strong. When there is conflict, we fight for what's right. When we have people searching for peace and justice in this nation, it is reflected onto countries surrounding us. It is a beautiful image to paint of this country and the characteristics of good, responsible leaders are what make me proud to be an American.

The beauty of our nation is blinding at times. Of course we run through some rough patches here and there, but nothing that would ever tear us apart. I am so grateful to have the honor and privilege to be a part of this growing country, and my hope for others is to feel that same pride as well.

In conclusion, there are many ways that we preserve the heritage of our nation. Teaching young students American history, paying taxes, fighting for what we believe in, and standing up for others are just a few ways we spread the message of the American way and show how proud we are to be a part of this nation. If we start taking what our country has to offer for granted, it may be hard to find the better things in life and share the legacy our founders began hundreds of years ago. There are many ways to open the eyes of others to what the American dream can look like, we just need to find our own ways of showing it. Every American is unique in their own individual way and has their own morals and beliefs they account to, but in the end we all share one thing in common: we are Americans.