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NEISD recognizes JROTC essay winner

Churchill High School junior Samuel Widman has been honored for finishing first in the North East ISD JROTC essay contest. The annual essay contest represents one of 13 competitive categories used to assess program success in the District. It also serves as a preliminary round for the United States Army Cadet Command’s annual national essay contest. The first-place finish automatically advances Widman’s essay to the regional competition. This year’s prompt was “Duty, Honor, and Country.”

This year’s prompt was “Duty, Honor, and Country.”   NEISD recognizes JROTC essay winner

Here is an excerpt from Widman’s winning essay:

Captain Nathan Hale, a Revolutionary War soldier serving under General George Washington, stated, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” He bravely and unflinchingly uttered these words before he was hung by British soldiers. A spirit like his is essential for leadership, and at the heart of the often-evoked phrase, Duty, Honor, and Country.  For Nathan Hale, duty demanded a level of self-sacrifice that few Americans will ever encounter.  For most, duty simply means doing your job and fulfilling one’s obligations without expectation of reward.  Honor, in Hale’s case, reflected his keen sense of ethical conduct. Lastly, it is important to remember that when Hale sacrificed his life, we were not yet a country.  For Hale, country referred to independence from Great Britain and the promise of a life free of tyranny. , The American spirit personified by Nathan Hale still burns bright, and evidence of the spirit of Duty, Honor, and Country, has continued to flourish in the hearts of generations of American patriots.

Through my participation in JROTC I have learned about the heroic accomplishments of Medal of Honor recipients like Lieutenant Colonel Leo Thorsness, Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, and Brigadier General James Brady. Their heroic stories share several common threads: self-sacrifice, bravery, and teamwork.  My experience as a JROTC cadet is affirmed by the legacy of these heroes. I have come to believe that duty, honor, country means putting the well-being of the team and the mission of the organization, ahead of personal needs, comfort, and safety.  Our nation's Medal of Honor recipients, like Captain Nathan Hale, were all prepared to give the last full measure to save the lives of their men and accomplish the mission.  As a JROTC cadet, I understand that although the stakes may not be as high, leadership demands that every member of the team work together and leaving no one behind.  Duty implies doing one’s job with purpose, and no expectation of reward.  Honor refers to one’s moral standard and ethical code, without which no organization can succeed.  Lastly, country includes the territory, the people, and most importantly, the ideals upon which our nation was forged.

Examination of the lives of our Medal of Honor recipients and great Americans like Nathan Hale reveal important leadership lessons, including the significance of acting with humility and serving a cause greater than one’s self. Leaders should be humble servants, placing the needs of their men and the mission ahead of their own. I have had many opportunities to demonstrate duty, honor, country, but the most important is as a community volunteer.  

Participating in everything from color guard ceremonies, supporting Veterans and their families, to charitable events like raising money to purchase food and clothing for the homeless has been a fundamental part of my life as a JROTC cadet. However, of the many important events I have supported, the most meaningful and significant was raising funds and collecting donations to support Texas hurricane relief efforts in 2017. Our JROTC battalion raised more than 10,000 dollars to donate to the American Legion in Wharton, Texas, one of the hardest hit areas in the region.  Working hard to assist others when they had no else, taught us valuable lessons of humility and made all of us better leaders and citizens.    

The lineage of our nation's heroic leaders can be traced all the way back to our founding fathers, through the courageous acts of men like Captain Nathan Hale, and the multitudes of heroes that followed. The United States was founded by men with everything to lose but just as much to gain. Through the legacy of our forefathers and my experiences as a cadet, I have learned that duty, honor, country, means so much more than simply acting bravely and being prepared to sacrifice everything. The concept implies a love for your fellow man and placing the needs of the country first, something that is difficult to find in contemporary American politics and society. Thus, it is even more important that today’s citizens, reaffirm and ascribe to the leadership lessons and values characterized by the lives of remarkable Americans. Those who have demonstrated through sacrifice, courage, humility, and bravery the true meaning of duty, honor, country as citizens of the United States, first and above all else.  

William Blake eloquently stated that “The most sublime act is to set another before you”.  This philosophy can be extended to the demands of citizenship and the notion of duty, honor, country. It is almost impossible to compare the good deeds of everyday citizens to the heroic accomplishments of our nation's Medal of Honor recipients or even the sacrifices of our founding fathers and men like Captain Nathan Hale.  Yet, evidence exists that there are heroes among us, including the many cadets with whom I serve, who selflessly sacrificed their time and put their full measure of support behind the effort to bring relief to victims of the recent hurricanes in Texas.  Our nation's history is full of examples of Hero citizens like Rosa Parks, instrumental in the civil rights movement, the nameless citizens who tried unsuccessfully to thwart the attack on Flight 93 following the September 11th attack on our country, and countless others. They are proof that heroism comes in many forms.  Yet, judging by the news, the average American likely spends more time worrying about their individual rights than they spend worrying about their obligations as citizens. The obligations of citizenship should not be taken lightly.  The meaning implied in the concept of duty, honor, country, establishes a foundation upon which one’s citizenship may be examined and forged. For this is what it means to be an American.

Posted on 2-7-19