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Samantha Ferguson:
2015 Winner
Long Island City High School

Samantha Ferguson

Winning Essay

In the pledge of allegiance the last line stated is “and justice for all”. The definition of justice means being fair, and treating people equally. Therefore justice for all means treating everyone equally regardless of race, or religion.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy. It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country. The pledge of allegiance had a few changes to it. It wasn’t always what it is now. It originally was “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923 they added the words “The flag of the Unites States of America”. In 1954 there were a lot of communist threats. President Eisenhower at the time suggested we add the words “under God”. Which was made to what it is today. First the pledge was said with your right hand in the so called “Bellamy Salute,” and your right hand resting outward from the chest, then your arm extended away from your body. When Hitler came to power in Europe, some people were concerned that the positioning of the arms resembled Nazis or Fascist salute. Then the Congress established the current position while reciting the pledge. You hold your hand over your heart. This was established in 1942. The congress had no official recognition until June 22, 1942, when the pledge became formally included in the U.S. Flag code. The official name was adopted in 1945. Till this day any changes you want to make to the pledge will need consent of the president.

During the past year there has been two separate instances involving crime which both occurred with devastating results. The country has been divided during both of these instances. The country has cited both situations as racial discriminations.

The first instance that occurred was the death of Michael Brown. He was an 18 year old African-American man, who was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. Before the shooting Michael did rob a nearby convenient store, with a friend. He stole, and shoved the store clerk. Police officer Wilson was notified about the robbery. He was patrolling the area and saw Michael matched the description, as well as his friend. Wilson then stopped the car to block the two suspects. Wilson’s gun was fired so Michael and his friend ran away. Michael then stopped and faced the officer. The altercation ended in Michael being shot several times on the front. Officer Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets.

The second instance that occurred was the death of Eric Garner. He was an African-American man who died as a result of a police officer holding him in a choke hold using excessive force. Garner was being harassed about selling “loosies” which are single cigarettes. The officer took Garners arms and put them around his back but he resisted. The police officer then pulled him onto the ground while pushing his head into the floor. Garner repeatedly stated “I cant breathe”. He then passed out for seven minutes until the ambulance came. The EMT did not perform CPR on him at the scene and Garner was announced dead when he arrived to the hospital an hour later.

These two instances I talked about do not show “justice”. In both instances people feel the cops were wrong and did not receive any kind of punishment. They feel the victims were the ones that received the punishment. The pledge of allegiance is there to protect everyone no matter what. Michael Brown and Eric Garner were not protected and justice did not help them. Justice should have treated them fairly.

In the Eric Garner instance I believe the police might have used excessive force towards him. I believe his race played a factor in how everything happened and how the situation ended. Eric had been someone that they had been watching for a long time and had a history of committing minor crimes or felonies. For someone to be tackled to the ground forcefully for selling cigarettes is excessive in my opinion. The officers could have been able to figure out another solution. It was wrong for this to happen in this manner. The police should figure out a way to try and stop this excessive behavior towards racial instances.

In the Michael Brown instance it is also unfortunate how it ended. No one should be killed in such a manner. Michael Brown a black Missouri resident had robbed a convenient store earlier in the day which was totally wrong. During the robbery he even pushed the clerk. Even though his actions were wrong he did not deserve to be shot twelve times in the front.

To me “justice for all” is all about being fair, and protecting. I’m not going to treat someone differently just because they are a different skin color, or have an accent, or anything else. To me “justice for all” is about sticking up for everyone and treating everyone the same way. I believe our nation has the same idea about everyone should treated the same. Its just hard because not everyone agrees. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions even if they are harsh, or cruel to others. I feel “justice for all” means regardless of peoples race, religion, age, sex, etc. That people should be treated exactly the same. The same rules should apply as well as punishments should be the same for all. This also means everyone has equal rights, and a fair chance at life and with our government.

I think the pledge should be continued to be recited on a daily basis by every child, in every school across the United States of America. This would help remind people on a daily basis that we should be fair.


My name is Samantha Ferguson. I am 17 years old. I have attended Long Island City high school for the past 4 years. I have a twin brother named Hugh, and a younger sister named Sara.

I have been on the varsity gymnastics team all four years and have been on a club team as well. I compete on all four events bars, beam, floor, vault. I have also been on a softball team throughout high school. I am a pitcher for my team, as well as a second baseman.

I do volunteer work on a weekly basis at DA Sokol Gymnastic’s. I teach gymnastics to young girls and instruct them on various short routines for bars, floor, beam and vault. I help prepare them for a competition twice a year. I also help coordinate fund-raisers for my gym, and different holiday events for the gymnasts to attend. Throughout the year the senior team members perform mini numbers or routines. We perform annually at the Bohemian hall Czech festival every Memorial Day weekend and at the different events.

I will be attending college in the fall. I am still waiting to hear back from one or two colleges before I make my final decision on where I will be attending. I have a few choices and want to make sure I pick the right option for me. I believe I want to major in event planning or education.

I want to thank the Christopher Santora Scholarship Judges for giving me this awesome opportunity. It is a dream come true!

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