High School, Second Place Winner – 2015 Essay Winner
Teacher:  Mrs. Samuels, AP Lang

The meaning of honor, courage, and commitment can be misconstrued as simple and straightforward, when in fact, there is a much more intricate undertone to them that can be easily missed. Prior to writing this essay, I hadn’t given much thought to what these words meant beyond a preliminary dictionary definition. But as I started to write, I realized that I see these traits every single day; some more evident than others, but nevertheless, they were still there. Honor, courage, and commitment are displayed by ordinary people everyday in different ways and these characteristics are encompassed by valiant actions, fearless convictions, and honorable service.

Honor, courage, and commitment all explicitly capture the sacrifice that is made by many people in their daily lives. Military men and women honor the ideas and values that their country stands for, so they fight for it and protect it. They are committed in that they dedicate their whole lives for this cause and would very literally die for it. And they are courageous because they continue fighting and understand that giving up is not an option. They wouldn’t let anything get in their way of defending their country and fighting for a place they love.

The citizens and role models that I encounter who show these traits in their daily lives would include those in the Marines fighting a war in Afghanistan. Those who firmly stood up for what they believed in even when it ostracized them. Those who added another day to their sobriety count. Those who decided not to kill themselves today. Those who kept pushing through their grief over a lost loved one. Those who stayed strong in tough times so their children wouldn’t worry. Those who had to pick between their parents when they announced a divorce. Even though whatever they’re going through is difficult, all of these people stayed strong. To me, all of them display the aforementioned character traits to their full extent.

These traits inspire me to live the best life I can and I try to include them in all that I do. The trait of courage led me to try a daunting sport I had never enjoyed or been good at prior to beginning: running. At first, I was terrified to try cross country because the idea of running three or more miles a day seemed impossible! But I had to stay committed to both myself and the sport because, as it turns out, I’m not all that bad at running, and it’s become an incentive to keep my grades up. In me, it’s grown grit and endurance and a newfound appreciation to fellow runners- a type of respect and honor to them, if you will. Running requires a person of character and one willing to persevere through adversity. It’s helped me to be more courageous in all I do and truly believe in my capabilities. I’ve also found that people have an almost reverent respect towards runners because it’s a sport that we choose to do voluntarily and in no circumstances is it easy. Overall, running has helped me to become a better person regarding these specific traits.

Honor, courage, and commitment can be shown in various ways by many different people. The way that I see honor demonstrated in others around me is in the people who voluntarily choose to fight for and defend the country that they so love and admire and therefore hold to a high esteem. I see commitment in those who continue fighting for their beloved country even after experiencing the horrors of war. I see courage in the people who get up every single day and simply keep on going despite the demons that plague them- the ones who are afflicted with terrible diseases, the ones who wouldn’t mind death, the ones who are abused and mistreated. These people get up everyday and choose to keep fighting when it’s hard and I find that to be extremely brave and admirable.

In conclusion, honor, courage, and commitment can be shown in many different ways that mean much more than what meets the eye at first glance. Whether the traits are intrinsically ingrained or have yet to be cultivated in a person, they are significant in the betterment of one’s life. They create mental, spiritual, and physical strength. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Bio 2015 Essay High School SECOND PLACE: What Lies Within Us by Allison Jouni, a grade 11 student from Liberty Charter High School in Lemon Grove, CA., and submitted by teacher, Brent Armstrong.

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