Not Just for Kids

What Does Freedom Mean to You?

Celebrate freedom as the summer fades away. These winning essays are from a statewide "What Freedom Means To Me" contest organized by the Banneker/Douglass Museum, Annapolis.

1st Place

The United States Constitution provides each American certain freedoms. Article 1 provides for freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom to petition. I feel that freedom of worship and freedom of speech are so very important. People in our country have very different beliefs and I think this is why our country is great. People should be very careful that they do not abuse their freedoms and to be respectful of other people's freedoms. We do not want others to force their will on us, and we must not force our will on them.

I'm a kid, so I have chosen to write about my freedoms. Parents are responsible for teaching their children values. Some people think children have no rights. I disagree. Children have the right to form their own opinions and to have their own feelings. We should be able to express ourselves, in a respectful manner. We need to be listened to. This is important for our development. I may grow up to have different opinions than my parents. I will have the freedom to choose what career I want to pursue, to be who I am.

I think what makes a kid great is when there is lots of love in the family. Freedom means having an open, warm home to grow up in. Children are such an important part of the family. We are the future. Our growth and happiness is cultivated in a home that provides love, guidance, proper discipline and respect for our freedoms.

-Morgan Marklin, age 12
Glen Burnie

2nd Place

When I hear the question, "What does freedom mean to you?" a whole mess of ideas fill my mind. What is freedom? What are my freedoms? I really need answers to these questions.

Webster's Dictionary defines freedom as: 1. the quality or state of being free; 2. a political right. Now these definitions are really quite broad. I think I'm beginning to understand, though.

Some people would say freedom is doing what you want, when you want and how you want. If that is what freedom is then this country would be chaos. So it must not be.

The first 10 amendments in the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. We have the freedom of religion, speech, and press. We have the right to keep and bear arms; we have the right to a speedy and public trial without excessive bails or cruel and unusual punishments. We have the right to vote and the right to impeach our president under probable grounds. We also have freedoms that state no person can be another persons property and no person may be discriminated because of their race or sex.

If someone was to ask me now, "What does freedom mean to you?" I believe I would have to answer: To me, freedom means that I am not another person's property. I should be able to vote when I'm 18 despite the fact that I'm a woman; I can have a speedy and public trial if I'm convicted of a crime and if I am proven guilty I will not have a cruel or unusual punishment. I believe freedom is living your life as you want to live it. For the American Government is the people. If I want changes, I can make them happen. That is what freedom means to me.

-Emily Kutchman, age 13

3rd Place

"What Freedom Means To Me," now, that's a mouthful. Freedom to me is to be able to drive, or vote, or even buy a house. But where I live there's no such thing as freedom, because of the reason that I now have freedom from - drug dealers, gangs, and abusive parents.

But some kids are not so lucky. Some kids stay awake at nights. Not for fun, but with fear that something bad is going to happen. So that is all I have to say on freedom. I told the good, the bad and the ugly.


-Issan Ellis, age 14


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VolumeVI Number 33
August 20-26, 1998
New Bay Times

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