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Generations of America

Assessment Model Print

Strong Speech

A high school student prepared this speech to deliver at a local meeting of Veterans of Foreign Wars. The speech combines narrative and argumentation to build a vision for the future of the United States.

Title: Generations of America

Level: Grade 11, Grade 12

Mode: Persuasive Writing

Form: Speech

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Student Model

Generations of America

When most people think about the future, they look forward. I think to look at the future, we must start by looking at the past. My generation could learn so much from those who came before. What America needed then and now is hard work, integrity, entrepreneurship, and patriotism.

My great grandfather, Frank William King, was part of the Greatest Generation. When Frank was a child of 8, his father disappeared, leaving his mother with two boys and a little girl to take care of. Later, when Frank was 13, his mother died. As the oldest, Frank had to quit school to support his family. He took a job at a printing company and learned the trade of pressmen. Once Frank had become a master pressmen, a friend of his suggested that they start their own business. The Reece-King Printing Company stood on Front Street in Bloomington, Illinois, for the next 50 years. During the Great Depression and World War II, Frank worked half time at that printing company and full time at the Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Illinois, producing tanks. For his contribution to the war effort, he earned an “E” for efficiency from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He faced odds that many of my generation can hardly imagine, but he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and worked. Like many parents, Frank had a vision for the nation he wanted his son to grow up in. He wanted an America where someone with nothing could end up with something.

I, too, want my children to live in a time when hard-working Americans don’t have to worry about where their next meal comes from. In 2014, over 48.1 million Americans did not have enough to eat. During the Great Depression, FDR supported American citizens by creating job programs. We can apply this approach today by improving the economy: We need to have more support for business and the great entrepreneurs that drive our country. America is the great innovator: We create, we discover, and we think outside of the box. Of course, FDR also created Social Security, lifting millions of seniors out of crushing poverty. Now we need to tend our fraying social-safety net, preserving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so that seniors and hard-working American families don’t have to slide back into poverty.

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy said we must travel to the moon before the decade was over. Eight years later, through hard work, America reached new heights by sending men to the moon. I hope that my children see an America reinvigorated by space exploration. When my children look up to the sky, I want them to see the glimmering stars and moon as they remember seeing the first person step onto Mars. I want to see an America where the American Dream soars higher than it has ever before for anyone who has the will and integrity to achieve it.

And just as we owe our future to those who labored so tirelessly in the past, we must honor those people in the present by providing veterans the respect and support they deserve. These brave men and women have served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and more. They should not be greeted with sneers and disrespect as were the soldiers who come home from Vietnam, and they should not be denied access to the medical care they deserve. We need to put our veterans first. In WWII, the whole country had the patriotism to contribute to the war effort. In modern-day conflicts, so much is expected from so few, and those few return and are not supported as they should be. Over 2,200 veterans die each year from lack of health insurance. Nearly 50,000 veterans are currently living homeless in America. As a country, we need to do better.

We all have hopes for the America of tomorrow. We want to give our children a country that is better than the one we received. My generation needs to prepare for when we must lead this country. We’ll face many difficulties, just as our ancestors did, and like our ancestors, we will overcome them. We need to lead the country into a new age of greater growth and prosperity. My generation can learn a lot from the people who came before us: Through hard work, integrity, entrepreneurship, and patriotism, we can lead this country to a better time.

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