Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the essay submitted by Centennial High School senior Michele Jones in a Veterans of Foreign Wars competition:
There are those who run from life's problems, and then there are those who stand and stare adversity in the face, despite the fact that everything they work so hard for could be gone in the blink of an eye.
I am proud to say that I live in a nation that identifies with the struggles of others.
I am humbled by the fact that for the most part I live in a nation that can persevere through differences in race, religion and sexual orientation in order to fight for a better tomorrow.
As a young person growing up I have lived through multiple instances where the American people have been subjected to strife and emotionally damaging situations.
I remember the first major incident that shook the very foundation of our nation.
It was when I was in kindergarten 12 years ago, on the fateful day of 9-11, where various plane hijackings took place at the hands of terrorist, in efforts to uproot our nation's way of life.
I remember being released from school in frenzy, and quickly rushing home to see what all the commotion was about all over the news.
As I watched the television people could be heard screaming as two planes with hundreds of civilians aboard crashed into our Twin Towers, while a third plane crashed in route to the Pentagon.
As I watched the screen I sat there crying, horrified that a group of people outside of the U.S. would take so many lives without any feeling of remorse for the civilian's families or their own moral compass.
I felt a sense of despair loom over my family as we sat there and watched everything unfold before us.
Sometime later news reports of American civilians, firefighters, and military personnel scrambling to help pull people out of the debris that covered the surrounding area in white ash flashed onto the screen.
People of every background, young and old, banded together in order to save the lives of those nearest to them, risking their own lives in order to save one another.
In the midst of this chaos a group of firefighters were seen raising our flag above the devastation that lay just in the background.
Despite the turmoil that came rushing behind them, they still found the courage to raise our proud flag, bringing with it the realization that the people of America are resilient individuals who are strong, even in the darkest hour.
Until this day I remember those who lost their lives in 9-11. I remember the courage they evoked in the American people and the footprint they left behind for the younger generations to follow.
I am optimistic about our nation's future because we as a people have proven that we may stumble when met with catastrophe, but that we are also resilient and hopeful to change any circumstance we find ourselves in.
As we grow as a nation and educate the younger generations in the history of our struggles, it is essential that we instill in our young people a sense of perseverance through every situation, no matter how hard or how bleak the initial picture may seem.