The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Joshua Blenner:
2007 Winner
Bayside High School

Joshua Blenner

Winning Essay

Throughout the history of the United States, the government has made many decisions that have changed the country, its citizens, and the world. These decisions have been controversial in their time and later proved to change the course of history for better or for worse. Decisions such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the choice for America to enter into Vietnam’s civil war, and The United States’ reaction to the events of 9/11 all changed the path of America. Without these decisions, the world and society as we know it would be quite different.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This piece of legislation led to the end of the “Jim Crow” laws and led America to the more tolerant society of today. It would be appalling if laws such as the Jim Crow laws were still in effect. It’s horrible to imagine the racism and sexism of more than forty years ago existing today. Without this legislation, supported by President John F. Kennedy and enacted by Lyndon B. Johnson, there would be higher levels of discrimination. The increased number of women in the corporate world, the ability for all people to vote regardless of race, and the simple action of two people of different skin colors sitting at the same table in a restaurant are all reasons why this decision was both wise and important. This law, however, was just a first step on the path to the destruction of racism and discrimination and, over time, these horrible practices will continue to fade.

While racism was an issue on the home front, an entirely different problem was occurring across the world. The Cold War had put America in a constant fight against Communism. This fight would bring America to a nation in the eastern world called Vietnam. The Civil War in Vietnam brought about great change. The war sparked a rage of protests around the country. These protests, mixed with the civil rights movement of the time caused an upheaval in this country not seen since the Civil War. Due to the efforts of many protestors, the voting age was changed from 21 to 18 in 1971; young men had been thought old enough to kill and be killed in war, but not to vote for the leaders who sent them over to fight. Overall, this decision for war was not wise. It caused the loss of 58,209 American soldiers and left scars on a generation of Americans. The result was that America lost politically and Vietnam became communist. Unfortunately, America did not learn its lesson after that tragic war and we have again entered a new war similar to the Vietnam War.

September 11th is the most tragic event in the history of the United States. The attacks on both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon caused the deaths of many heroic people, such as Christopher A. Santora. This sad event, in which so many innocent lives were lost, created a new age in which the United States has been required to change its way of thinking. The United States has limited many freedoms within the confines of the Patriot Act and in doing so, has increased the safety of the nation. Instances such as the phone tapping cases and the people being held in Guantanamo Bay, are said to be essential to freedom, but at what price do we take these risks? America’s own founding father Ben Franklin once stated, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor Safety.” The consequences of these actions are yet to be seen, but there is a potential for danger.

Another reaction of the United States was the invasion of Iraq. This war has escalated to a level where some are calling it a civil war. America may have just stepped into the next war for which it will lose its soldiers without clear cause.

Politicians today are often thought of as liars and crooks. However, there are many out there that are hard at work, supporting the wishes of the people they serve. One idea that elected officials need to consider is eliminating big business’ influence on politics. The oil companies have gained so much control over the country that progress and our planet’s health are being ignored. The ability to run an electric car, a hydrogen car, or an ethanol car are all either available or close to it. Unfortunately, the oil companies lobby against this progress and fight against the ecology of the planet for their own profit. Another case where politicians need to try to be fairer is the issue of immigration. Any person living in the United States who is not Native American comes from families of immigrants. While screening immigrants is important, we must remember that people have been searching for freedom in America before it existed as a nation. Overall, politicians need to get back to the basics of serving the American people instead of themselves.

The United States Government has made many decisions that have changed history. The way of life in this country is much different than it was fifty years ago. While many problems still exist, there is more tolerance in the nation. The United States has never been perfect in its decision making processes, which can be seen clearly from the mistake made by entering the Vietnam War. America has not always learned the lessons of history and has involved itself in another quagmire of war. As for securing the nation at the price of liberty, nobody knows where that will eventually take the country. One thing must be remembered above all: those who died protecting, preserving, and enhancing the freedoms of America must not have died in vain.


We would like to wish Joshua Blenner the best of luck moving on to Queens College. Congratulations!

My name is Joshua Blenner and I live in Whitestone, New York. I am eighteen years old and I am an only child. I’m a huge baseball fan, especially when it comes to the New York Mets. I have always dreamed of being a ball player, but my talents have brought me closer to a career with computers. In school, the subjects I have always enjoyed most have been the ones closely related to math and computers. I have always tried to keep my dream alive because you never know what path life is going to give you, especially living in New York City.

New York City to me is the greatest city in the world. It has such diversity and offers so many differing opinions that it allows a person to be unique. Being unique is something I value quite highly. It emphasizes being a leader and creating your own path. A unique person can follow his heart and not the crowd. New York is a distinct place with diverse people and it’s the place where dreams can come true. I can not help but love this city and that is what caused me to stay home and attend Queens College. New York City often gets a reputation of having rude people, but most do not get to see the soft side of New Yorkers when we’re not in morning traffic.

The Santora’s are a perfect example of the kind-hearted people that show the true New York. They offer this scholarship to students to honor their son. It is a truly kind gesture that helps students such as myself to achieve their dreams and develop their talents. Christopher Santora had the same generosity that truly exists in most people in this city. On September 11th, 2001, when this city needed heroes, he gave his life selflessly to save others. His bravery and courage are two things that I admire and aspire to emulate. I’d like to thank the Santora’s for this scholarship; they have given me a great chance to achieve and I will use this opportunity to do Christopher’s memory proud.

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