LAW DAY: Essay Contest Winner Reads During Luncheon

The Daily Record sponsored the annual essay contest for area eighth grade students in conjunction with the Omaha Bar Association Law Day celebration, which has traditionally been coordinated by members of the Omaha Legal Professionals Association.

Eleanor Prekker of La Vista Middle School won first place and the right to read her essay as part of the Law Day luncheon program. First through third place finishers received cash prizes from the Omaha Bar Association, and their teachers received a gift card to thank them for their support.

The contest received 42 submissions.

 

Students were asked to reflect upon the Law Day theme “Celebrating the Rule of Law in Our Country.” Sample essay topics included: What does it mean that the United States is a country of laws and not of men? Give examples of ways that the rule of law has an impact on your life. How does the majority benefit when minorities are protected by the rule of law? What is the responsibility of judges when their personal opinions are in conflict with the rule of law in the case before them? Essays were limited to 200 to 250 words and were judged on connection to the 2021 Law Day theme, originality, content, spelling, and neatness.

 

FIRST PLACE

Eleanor Prekker

La Vista Middle School

(Teacher: Cody Redford)

 

The United States is founded on the concept of a government which guarantees certain unalienable rights to its citizens. However, despite American culture's profound emphasis on the right to freedom, all people cannot be free to do exactly what they want. Freedom has to be balanced with justice in a way that promotes equality and human wellbeing.

I believe that, in order to uphold such a balance, our laws must be written with human rights in mind and enforced honestly. All demographics of people should be protected equally according to the same laws, and only punished if need be. This concept is known as the rule of law, and it is the cornerstone of any true democracy. This is not a perfect nation, so the rule of law is not always equally upheld, but there is also a foundation in place for change. The right of free speech is protected by the Constitution, so the people are allowed to protest if the law is enforced unfairly, and we can vote for lawmakers who will write and support just laws.

In conclusion, all people deserve to have equal and legally protected individual rights, as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. The rule of law should keep both the average citizen and the people who enforce it from attempting to violate these rights. This allows the U.S. to stay in the balanced middle ground between the strict reign of tyranny and unregulated anarchy.

 

SECOND PLACE

Hta Der Taw Paw

Morton Middle School

(Teacher: Sharon Oakman)

 

Where I grew up there was no strong laws to keep the civilians safe. Living in the borders, in a refugee camp, where the houses were made up of bamboos, leaves, and ta wah. The Burmese could easily invade and the government wouldn’t do a single thing. The cries of the women and babies when they ran from the Burmese military just to survive killed me every time.

It felt as if the greatest fear I had that time were coming through. The thoughts of dying crept up on me as my sorrowful sobs could be heard throughout the village. The anxiety I had was wrapped around my head as if that was the only thing holding me together. When turning four I moved to America. I still had the lingering fear and anxiety of not being safe. I was a lot more safe with the laws in America.

I always remembered looking up to judges because they were so determined to give the most reasoning consequences for the person who did the crime. I was so glad having human rights. Being able to state my opinion, practice my religion, and know that others have their own rights gave me the relief that I longed for. Back where I grew up if we practiced any of that we would’ve been brutally beaten or tortured to death. We were never promised a supplemental tomorrow. I wanted to thank every person who made secure laws because us refugees can live in peace.

 

THIRD PLACE

Olivia Camerer

St. Pius X/ St. Leo

(Teacher: Greg Gorski)

 

“Celebrating the Rule of Law in Our Country”

“And the home of the brave.” This sole standing line in the National Anthem is how I picture the way Americans live in accordance with our laws. Since the spring of 2020, I realized how fortunate I am to live in the United States due to the laws that shape us. Being biracial, I felt sensitive to the divisions between people and that changes should be made. Living in a world of hate and violence is not the ideal place to grow up, but during the protests that happened due to racial injustice, I feel the Constitution created a path for Americans to follow after.

The Constitution provides that everyone is to be treated equally and others cannot take that equality away. Laws have given a voice to those who notice inequality and demand a change. In 2020, innocent people died, and I wasn’t the only one afraid for my future. When someone sees anything that is wrong, I think they should speak their mind. The First Amendment gives them that right to speak their mind and have an influence on what is and isn’t right. In my opinion, the protestors made a change in American history by using their Constitutional rights in an empowering way and being brave and taking risks to help protect the futures of many, including mine. Now I don’t have to fear my future and have a sense that I belong to a country brave enough to challenge others and fight for what is right.

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