Winner of the Pittsfield division of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Voice of Democracy essay

"Why I’m Optimistic"

‘From our earliest days, we have re-imagined and remade ourselves again and again. Colonists in the 1750s couldn’t have imagined that 40 years later, they would be living in a nation independent of empire. Farmers in the first decades of the 19th Century couldn’t have imagined that 40 years later, their continent would be crisscrossed by a railroad linking from Eastern ports to Western markets ŠThat we have constantly transformed ourselves is a testament to our people -- our entrepreneurs and innovators, scientists and engineers, dreamers, tinkerers and makers of things ŠOver the past few centuries, the pace of change has steadily picked up, and today, new technologies and innovation are coming faster than ever, replacing the ones that preceded them ŠFor me, they are a reminder of what has always defined America’s people: our spirit; a restless searching for the right solution to any problem; an inclination to dream big dreams, and an insistence on making those dreams come true; an enduring faith, even in the darkest hours, that bright days lie ahead.


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These are the words of our nation’s current president, Barack Obama, in an address named "Why I’m Optimistic," made in 2010.

Optimism is defined as hopefulness and confidence about what lies ahead or in the successful outcome of something. The uniting ability of Americans to come together, the American charisma, and our ability to adapt to rapid change are the everyday commodities that spur my own optimism for this country, tallying up the reasons as to why I, myself, am proud to be an American.

A wound in America heals quickly, as the American people can come together to bandage any damage with ease. If you insult one of us, you insult all of us. From Osama bin Laden to Dzhokhar [Tsarnaev], no matter the depth of the casualty, there are bandages of all sizes. People from all over the nation become one, in the event of a tragedy, treating strangers, family and friends alike.

Only in America do we have a day of recognition for those who serve our country, where wars and tragedies succeed memorials. The patriotic, dignified and profound charisma of the American people give me hope for the future that my generation, along with many generations before and after my time, will still be remembered today. I know that in my own heart and soul, I will continue to wear with pride my grandfather’s U.S. Marine Corps pin from when he served in the Korean War that was passed down to me when he passed away. It is this fulfilling desire to pay forward America’s history and link us with our past ancestors that keeps me optimistic that future generations will do the same thing for me.

I grew up [once] surrounded by Walkmans the size of Frisbees, VHS tapes and dial-up Internet connections. Just in my lifetime alone, America has been a technological innovation within itself. This rapid change has proved that America is capable of anything within desire, making the future full of possibilities. When asked to write an English paper about America in 100 years, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to say we all live underwater, travel in hover cars, or even have the ability to time travel. It is these endless possibilities that give me hope and optimism for the future.

These are only some of the many reasons that scratch the surface as to why I thank my European ancestors for making the decision to come to this developing country in the New World era. I have them to thank for the considerable amount of opportunities this country has given me, and the reasons why I can say that I love this country, from sea to shining sea.