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Cassie Farrell:
2010 Winner
FDNY Ladder 116

Cassie Farrell

Winning Essay

“I think the American people understand that we are not…going to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals,” said President Obama on January 22, 2009 when he signed a declaration ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay military base, and the cessation of the unlawful acts that have been taking place there. This detention facility is located on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the coast of south-eastern Cuba, although it is owned and operated by the United States. The original purpose of this base was the same as any other naval port, until it became something that is much more evil than that.
The 45 square foot naval base was first acquired by the United States in 1903 as a precondition to Cuban independence, mainly for the protection of the Panama Canal, although today it is no longer helpful to America for military purposes. In modern times it is used as a prison for alleged terrorists, “the worst of the worst,” as they say. But Guantanamo Bay is more than just a regular prison; it is a detention camp at its least. The camp is considered to be outside of United States legal jurisdiction, so prisoners from all over the world that are brought to this camp are not entitled to any of the protections that the Geneva Conventions offer, or any of the rights that American citizens possess. Allegedly, there have also been unlawful actions taking place towards the prisoners there, such as abuse, torture, or mistreatment. Just because this base is not on United States territory does not mean that detainees should be forced to live under these barbaric conditions.
On the other hand, Guantanamo Bay has been an extremely important asset for America to have, considering the number of criminals it has kept out of our country, and people it has kept out of harm’s way. Most of the detainees have not stood trial, however, and are being held there under no legal circumstances. I believe that even if the prisoners are not being held in The United States, they still deserve a fair trial. I agree with President Obama’s decision to close this base, because America should be civilized enough to know not to hold people in prison without just cause. Of course, it is very important to keep dangerous people away from our country, but it could surely be done in a more mature manner. I agree with Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay, and I think the situation could be controlled in a more appropriate way.
Closing this base would take time and money, but it would instill confidence within the American people once again, and make other countries view us as respectful and responsible. I think that in order to solve this problem in Guantanamo Bay, the detainees whose crimes are known should be put on trial, and all others who have no written record of misbehavior should be sent back to their native countries, and put on terrorist watch lists. A problem with this plan, or any plan like it, would be the fear that these people are free to do anything they want, now that they have been released. Also, since the people would be back in their home countries, they may regain the power to take legal action against the American government for their time in the detention camp. The government also may choose to reimburse the past detainees for their time spent behind bars and for the money they could’ve earned if they were able to work during their imprisonment. The United States government will have to deal with the financial burden that is introduced as a result of closing the detention camp, but it will always have to deal with the emotional burden of knowing that lives were endangered and ruined because of their actions.
The Guantanamo Bay military base has been talked about copious amounts in the past year, and while it is still not closed, there will be many problems when it eventually does close. Though these problems may not be easily fixed, it is morally the right thing to do, and I think the government has made the right choice. The safety of The United States is very important to me, but I don’t think that the right way to keep terrorists away is to lock them away and punish them in illegal ways. America is better than that, and I believe that this problem can be solved over time.


Hello everyone, my name is Cassie Farrell. I live in West Islip with my parents, Janice and Jerry Farrell. My father is a Lieutenant at Ladder 116 in Long Island City, and has been on the job for almost 26 years. My mother is a kitchen designer at Lowe’s in Bay Shore. My 24–year–old brother, Luke, is a Vassar College graduate with a degree in Economics, and is now living in Hoboken, New Jersey. My sister, Erin, is 21–years–old and has just graduated from Marist College this May with a degree in business and a marketing concentration. I also must mention my 12 year old cat named Graham, since he is just as much a part of our family as those I have just introduced. I have a large extended family on both my mother’s and my father’s sides, with more cousins than I can keep track of. My family is the most important factor of my life story, which is why, of course, I have mentioned them first.
In second place are my friends. I can always count on my friends to help me through a hard time, and without question, for a good laugh. I have a few close friends, who I know will always stick with me throughout the coming years. In my spare time I enjoy reading, exercising, and crocheting. Most of my free time, however, is spent with my family and friends. I volunteer once a week after school in the geriatrics unit at Good Samaritan Hospital, and over the winter I volunteered by teaching a fourth grade class how to speak Spanish. I enjoy volunteering in my community because it gives me great joy to be able to affect the lives of others in a positive way.
In about two weeks I will be graduating from West Islip High School. I plan to attend the University of Scranton in the fall, which is located in Pennsylvania. I will study nursing in hopes of passing the NCLEX exam at the end of my four years and becoming a Registered Nurse. Eventually I would love to become a labor and delivery room nurse, and I hope to be extremely successful in my field.

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