The photo above is of the 'Flag Bridge' in downtown Westport. This bridge spanning the Saugatuck River is decorated multiple times a year with the American flags being its signature look. I shot this image on my drone in the spring of 2018 in hopes of capturing the American spirit portrayed in my community.
Freedom; this word means so many different things. As a little kid, I pictured it as being able to do whatever you wanted and not get in trouble. Although in some aspects this could be true, the dictionary defines freedom as "the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint" (Oxford Dictionary). I have grown up in a place where I am able to reflect on all the amazing things freedom has done for me. As a young adult, I am able to access a high level of education, see my family and friends, practice religion and so much more. Having the right to all these incredible freedoms makes me want to not only say thank you but also express it through action. My family has a tradition of giving back that stems far into the past. As a way to give thanks to the freedom, this country offers, my creed of supporting others is acted upon by me, my family and friends making it truly meaningful.
In my family, traditions are a great representation of how we express our freedom as American's. My uncle Todd create a tradition with his son Dylan to honor the people who have served our country every year on Memorial Day. The bonding experience allows them time to reflect on this countries freedoms. Every year, Todd and Dylan participate in an event through the organization Carry The Load in which they "wear a weighted pack to simulate what service men and women have to endure" while walking along a wall with memorials. For Todd, this experience "serves as a good reminder of why we have the holiday, and that it’s not just a day off to bbq and sit by the pool." Indeed, Todd feels that a lot of America forgets why we have this holiday; hence, he is making it the key component of his day. By creating an annual family tradition, Todd and Dylan have found a creative way to give back to the sacrifices made to keep this country free.
My parents have instilled the value of helping others from a young age. My brother Eli has always been a thankful person from a very young age. He believes that if the American dream can use freedom to give certain people privileges, it is those people who are relied on to provide an opportunity to those in need. Eli relates closely to an essay about the American dream, in this paper Rosemarie writes “if ordinary people can become extraordinary people, than the American dream is possible." Eli feels a strong connection with the quote because he volunteers at the Carver Center in Norwalk. During this time, Eli helps younger students with homework, play lots of sports, but most importantly makes them happy. His goal is to help these students find the right path, even if they are fighting adversity. Eli believes that since we are granted amazing freedoms, "it is the right of an American if you have a lot, to give to those who may have less." This belief has inspired Eli to form a special bond with the children at the Carver Center. Eli's efforts to help the community represent actions are family history has instilled for generations.
In the past couple of years, I have developed a strong passion for the sport of swimming. I have been swimming my whole life but recently started competing when I got to Staples. As an American, I have the freedom to participate in sports and activities that I want no matter my background. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to compete even if they have the freedom to. On Sunday's I volunteer my time to help younger kids with special needs train for swimming. After working individually with the kids in the pool all year, there is a Special Olympics swim meet at the end of the year where the athletes get a chance to compete. I have spent most of my time with an athlete named Jared. My relationship with him has grown and developed through our time together in the pool. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and American pride seeing the smile on his face when he is able to get into the pool every Sunday. This experience is very meaningful to me because I am using my unique freedom to support others in something I care about.
An American creed doesn't just have to be something you believe in, it is a valuable experience to act on these beliefs. From generation to generation, my family has believed in giving back as a way to say thank you for the freedom that makes us American. My mom and dad have raised us under the belief that when amazing things are granted to you, it is your responsibility to say thank you and give back. My brother has demonstrated this through his commitment to the students of the Carver Center, teaching them sports and making them passionate about school. My uncle Todd and cousin Dylan give back to those who served our country on Memorial Day by simulating one aspect of the many obstacles they face in service. Lastly, I volunteer my time to teach special needs kids how to swim, especially Jared, sharing my love for the sport of swimming with others. All of the ways my family and I give thanks to freedom portray how someone can take action to support their American creed.
American Creed, Narrated by Condoleezza Rice and David M. Kennedy, PBS, 27 Feb. 2018.
“Freedom | Definition of Freedom in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/freedom.
P, Rosemarie. "Is the American Dream still achievable?" writingourfuture.nwp.org/americancreed
Rosenkranz, Daniel. "Flag Bride." Photo shot on DJI Mavic Pro, June 2018.
Rosenkranz, Daniel. “Interview With Eli.” 4 June 2019.
Rosenkranz, Daniel. "Interview With Todd." 5 June 2019