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Michelle Doody:
2015 Winner
FDNY Ladder 154

Michelle Doody

Winning Essay

Ever since my first day on this Earth, even if I cannot remember it all that well, I know that I have been raised to realize that the American way is the best way. Although this is an opinion, I know that I am not alone when I say it. Every morning at school while stating the Pledge of Allegiance, and on various occasions at home, I have been continuously reminded that being an American citizen is something that cannot be taken for granted. Although it can be very easy to lose sight of just how lucky we Americans are, it is crucial that we never forget our past and how far the nation has come since it was first settled centuries ago. Despite the political problems and differences that this country may face at times, I believe that it is safe to say that the citizens of the United States could be much worse off and involved with much worse issues while living elsewhere. Although it is something that not everyone follows worldwide, “ justice for all” is a concept that the people of the United States abide by. This idea is one of the forces that has aided the shaping of the United States as a whole, and will continue to do so as time goes on.

Recently many controversial issues have stirred up trouble amongst a plethora of people in our Nation. A current and popular controversial issue, for example, would be the widespread abundance of civil unrest due to fatal police interactions with the public that is being seen. This problem and the hazardous protesting and violence in association with it is just one of the many examples of the issues that face the Country, as well as New York State directly, today. Appropriately and relevantly, the anniversary of the March to Selma, which was led by Dr. Martin King Jr., is approaching. Although some people may believe that the nation has not advanced in its beliefs since the time of this historical march, I do not agree. In this country, as the Pledge of Allegiance states, there is “justice for all”, for everyone. In this day and age there is nowhere in the United States that a citizen could be discriminated against the way that people were during Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s time. Due to laws now set in place as a result of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work, no person or group could possibly get away with discriminatory behavior such as that again. Although the words “justice for all” have always been apart of the Pledge of Allegiance, and it is disappointing to look back into history and see that not everyone stood by the words of the pledge all along, it is extraordinary to realize that the times have changed and the United States has since become a better place to live. Unfortunately even with the rapid addition of new technologies into society it is still sometimes very hard to be perfectly fair, though. When analyzing a specific case such as the Ferguson case from a neutral standpoint, I know that initially some red flags were raised due to race, race being a sensitive topic in the United States due to the Nation’s history, but after further analysis of the situation I do not think that the race of Michael Brown influenced Officer Wilson. Although it is hard to be very sure of exactly what happened between Brown and Officer Wilson because there is always the possibility that witnesses can be unreliable, whenever a Judge makes a decision I feel that it is important to trust that the officials of the court were making the best choices that they possibly could. I do not think that it is out of the question that Officer Wilson was unjust, because anyone could be if they wanted to be, but I believe that it is much more probable that he was just, given that is his job. Looking into the history of the United States, it is understandable that certain groups or races of people may have different feelings towards certain situations and the way in which those situations were handled and justified, but I think that the chaos people have caused as the result of court rulings is unnecessary. The tumultuous situations being caused by protesters are doing nothing but causing damage and severely abusing the right we have as citizens to speak freely. My worry for the future is that this type of situation will become more common which in turn could cause rights of ours to be taken away. Because we are so privileged in that we live in a country with “justice for all,” it would be a shame to lose the privilege due to a couple of controversial court rulings. “Justice for all” is extremely essential in our very successful Country and I do not think things would stay the same without it.

Another issue that is currently facing our nation is the terrorist group Isis, and the threat which they are posing to our Nation’s security. Under the Pledge of Allegiance, for example, citizens state “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…”. Very recently I have learned that American citizens are becoming part of the expansive terrorist group Isis at a rapidly increasing rate, thus going against our nationwide pledge. I cannot fathom that some people have the audacity to leave a Country with such great opportunity, success and safety only to go and perform inhumane deeds to innocent people; quite frankly I find it both mind boggling and sick. Towards the end of the Pledge of Allegiance “... with liberty and justice for all” is stated. I know that not every Country outside of the United States treats their citizens poorly, but I am sure that the former United States citizens and now current Isis members are not in a place which will provide them with “liberty and justice for all.” In my eyes, being able to say that you have freedom and protection as well as “liberty and justice for all” is something that is invaluable and I do not think that I will ever be able to wrap my head around why someone would be so willing to give that privilege up, only to go and do horrible things. The privilege was not easily earned, either, and I feel that leaving this Country is an insult to everyone who has founded, protected and is continuing to protect the people of the U.S. as well as the U.S. as a whole. On a personal level, it is heartbreaking to think that my family members who are involved in the Fire Department as well as the military, for example, are putting or put their lives on the line for the betterment of our Country and not everyone is appreciative of what they do everyday. I feel very strongly that it is crucial to appreciate everyone who sacrifices themselves for someone they may not ever even know. I am proud to live in a country where there are so many people who are willing to do what they can all in the name of the United States, and although not everyone will recognize the importance of having “justice for all,” along with many other privileges that the heroes of our Country allow us to have, I know that I will never allow myself to forget.

Although the Brown and Isis situations are very different from one another, when recognizing having “justice for all,” it is clear that both involve this idea in one way or another. In the Brown situation justice was a main topic and although some citizens and protesters would not agree, I think that the situation was just and I truly believe that Officer Wilson provided Brown justice like he would have for any other person despite any physical differences between himself and whomever the perpetrator, had it not been Michael Brown. Isis and its new, former-American members, on the other hand, also involves justice for all, but in a different way. In this situation the privilege of living somewhere with “justice for all,” in addition to the many other privileges that come with being a United States citizen, are not being used because a handful of former citizens would prefer to join a violent and malicious group of people as well as live in an area full of turmoil. I find it to be a shame that some people treat their citizenship as if it is worthless meanwhile there are an exorbitant amount of people who are anxiously awaiting the moment that they can legally immigrate to this country and would do anything to be under a set of laws that provides “justice for all.” I also think that the people who see their citizenship as worthless are disrespecting the Country as a whole and the people who founded it. I know that so many people did not spend their whole lives in attempt to make this country a better place just so that citizens can live in the U.S. or leave the U.S. without caring about the Country and all that they are giving up. Justice, by definition, is “just behavior or treatment,” but to me “justice for all” has a double sided meaning. To me “justice for all” not only means that simple and straightforward definition, but in my eyes “justice for all” also symbolizes a large part of the morals and foundation that this Country was built upon. Patriotism is one thing I will always be proud to have, and I would never take any privilege such as having “justice for all” and abuse it or not cherish it.


We would like to wish Michelle Doody the best of luck moving on to High Point University. Congratulations!

My name is Michelle Doody and I live in East Meadow, New York. I have a twin sister, Marissa. My dad is a Lieutenant for the New York City Fire Department and is assigned to Ladder 154. My mom works as a secretary for the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department. I cannot thank them enough for all of their hard work, support and dedication. In addition to my immediate family, I am also strongly supported by my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins. The bond that we all share is priceless. Whenever I am not spending time with my family I enjoy socializing with friends. Without the important people in my life cheering me on throughout my years in school so far, I don’t think I could have been as successful as I was lucky to be.

When I am not hard at work in school, I am always occupied with the various clubs and activities that I am involved with. I am humbled to say that I am Captain of my high school’s Kickline team, Secretary of the American Sign Language Honor Society and a Peer Leader. In addition, I am also involved with other clubs and organizations such as National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, World Hunger Action Club and Environmental Club. Outside of school, I am a competitive dancer. I compete at regional and national level competitions in various styles. I am extremely passionate about dancing; so passionate that I gave up playing field hockey and lacrosse, which were sports that I loved, in order to make more time to devote to dance. During the summer I love to soak up the sun and I spend a lot of time doing various things such as kayaking, paddle boarding, bike riding, or just simply spending some time at the beach. I also love to travel.

In the fall I will be attending High Point University while majoring in Interior Design, and I also hope to minor in dance or be a member of the dance team, that way I do not have to stop doing what I love. I am going to miss my family and friends that I will be leaving behind, but I know that they will be with me in spirit, and I cannot wait to make them proud. I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to go into the world with people that love and support me by my side. I am very excited for this new chapter in my life to begin, and I cannot wait to see what my future holds!

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