Recipients of the Observer editorial board’s Law Day essay awards provide goose-bump evidence that the future of our communities and country is in good hands. Their words prod young and old to live up to the ideals that undergird our nation. They courageously prick our consciences about our failures to stay true to those values. The contest winner and the runner-up were announced Thursday at the Mecklenburg Bar Association’s annual luncheon.
Winner Rachel Carroll, 17, is a student at Porter Ridge High School in Indian Trail, and daughter of David and Connie Carroll. Here is a sample of her essay:
“We hear it every morning at school when we take the Pledge: We live in a country that offers ‘liberty and justice for all.’ From our earliest days, we are taught the fundamental truth – originally penned by an introverted, red-headed, violinist from Monticello – ‘that all men are created equal.’
“Those words came to us in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence, which was an earth-shattering and revolution-inducing document at the time. The Emancipation Proclamation, another history changing document issued 87 years later, allowed our Founding Fathers’ creed to live up to its potential by truly encompassing ALL men – both black and white. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment went a step further by extending this idea of equality to men AND women, who were finally given the right to vote. But even today, in the 21st century, the extent to which this equality should go is still being debated. Perhaps the most controversial example of this debate is the question: If all men are created equal, does that include men who love other men?... America needs to live up to the ideals upon which it was founded. One does not have to ‘agree with’ gay marriage in order to realize its fundamental importance in fulfilling the idea of ‘liberty and justice for all.’ It is hypocritical and wrong to send our children to school each morning to pledge to such a lofty ideal until this country actually provides it.”
Our runner-up, Mariah Harrelson, 16, daughter of Margaret and Calvin Harrelson, ended her essay with these challenging words: “While American history is a tale brimming with independence, triumph of the downtrodden, and victory over tyranny, the book of records is still open to the present day, waiting to discover the full liberties of all people who call the United States their home.”
Well said. Congratulations to both.
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