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Good citizens embrace their freedoms

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Editor’s note: Columnist Greg Romberg’s space this week is being taken by his daughter Rebekah Romberg. Rebekah, a senior at Evergreen High School, recently won the Mountain Rendezvous Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Good Citizen Scholarship for her essay on being a good citizen. Rebekah was given up to two hours to write the following essay based just on her own knowledge and without either prior knowledge of the question or access to any research or resource materials.

Our founding fathers set forth many rights when creating the United States’ unique government. With these freedoms comes responsibility. A good citizen must utilize, demonstrate and respect these rights and the values they represent.
One of the most important aspects of having the freedoms we have is that we must not take them for granted. We must utilize our freedoms and use them to the best of our ability. To do this, good citizens can utilize their right to free speech. Obviously, the freedom can be overused and has been largely manipulated by modern mass media. However, to completely ignore this right would be blasphemous. Education is another example. To have the ability to get an education and ignore it is ridiculous. Exemplary citizens in our society utilize their freedoms well.
Closely tied to utilizing freedoms is demonstrating them, or more importantly, demonstrating the values they represent. It is the responsibility of a good citizen to be respectful. As George Washington displayed while choosing leadership for the country after the revolution, we must respect other viewpoints. President Washington could have easily taken the title  “King,” been the sole leader of the United States, and created a government similar to that which the colonists had just lost their lives to escape. However, being a man of intellect and respect, Washington surrounded himself with the smartest men in the country, including those with opposing viewpoints. Washington embodied the values which our freedoms represent. He was the ultimate good citizen.
Finally, and most importantly, good citizens must respect the freedoms we enjoy. The United States has a truly unique system where equality is the main emphasis. While our country is sometimes plagued with the corruption of sex scandals or economic schemes, this is one of the best, if not the best, countries in the world. In other countries from China to the Middle East, free speech and other personal freedoms are nonexistent. Americans are truly free, and good citizens respect this fact.
Citizens in the U.S. are gifted with certain unalienable rights. Rights that countless people have fought and died for. To ignore these freedoms disgraces our heritage. Truly wonderful citizens must utilize, demonstrate and respect the rights guaranteed to us. Without these freedoms, we would not be Americans.