Opinion: Voice of Democracy winner answers the question, 'America, where do we go from here?'

Madison Schmitz, a Verndale senior, answers the difficult question in her essay she recited on Veterans Day. Her essay was the top among entries into the Voice of Democracy contest within the Wadena VFW Post 3922.

Madison Schmitz (2021)
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America, where do we go from here?

As I pondered this question and what to speak about, multiple scenarios from the past two years ran through my mind. The pandemic, presidential debates, social injustice, riots and the list goes on. As a teenager experiencing all of this division, it frightens me on what our country possibly could become. If we do not put our differences aside and come together as one, how are we supposed to continue the American Dream, the idea our country was founded upon? Americans are losing faith in what our country has become, and we need to resolve this conflict for the better of the upcoming generations.

Throughout the pandemic and the controversies it is easy to find a reason to become upset and hold a grudge. However, everything happens for a reason, and rather than holding a grudge why don’t we begin learning through all that has occurred. We are not in control of God’s plan, nor can we change His mind on what has already occured. As Americans we tend to feel the need to constantly be in control. Let’s begin to take our foot off the gas and learn to just have faith and trust in the man upstairs, for all we know that may be the key ingredient our country has forgotten about. After all, we are “one nation under God.”

Along with having faith and trust, we must begin learning from the past rather than running from it. If our younger generations do not have the opportunity to become educated on the bad years of our country’s past, then the past is bound to repeat itself. We must be straightforward with our history rather than hiding it. The younger generations rely on us to inform them and they look up to each and every one of us as a role model. As a role model it is important to show them how our country can overcome slavery, segregation, and diversity. The knowledge of our country’s history will not only benefit children’s intelligence, but also show them the importance of being a good citizen. Do not shelter our youth any longer; help them see the light at the end of a tunnel through all the dark our past may contain. Prepare them to avoid the mistakes we have made and preach on the importance of teamwork and coming together despite the adversity and division that they may face.

America currently, however, is in our hands, not the children’s. If we are to talk the talk, we must be prepared to walk the walk. In other words, preaching to the younger generations will have no effect if our society right now does not reevaluate and put our differences aside to set good examples. Take the time to listen to one another. We all have our own beliefs and opinions, but attacking one another is only destroying our country and dividing us. My family members and ancestors, our veterans and current soldiers did not fight for our freedom or risk their lives coming to America just to see it being destroyed by something as simple as a countering opinion.


As the phrase goes “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” So the next time we want to attack one another for having an opposite opinion, remember that listening to the other side will not kill us. Our society needs to become less self centered and increase selflessness.

Therefore, our country and society needs to reevaluate and increase faith and trust in the Lord and one another. There is always good that comes from the bad, and I truly believe that our country will eventually dispose of the hate in the air and unite as one again. Our future and current generations should not have to fear what our country may become. Instead we should be enlightened that with faith, hope, and hardwork the American Dream will remain the root of our country. To make a change it begins with me and you.

Related Topics: VERNDALE
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