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Freedom Through My Eyes Art Essay Contest

Alyssa Christoffers, Moorhead MN

Miles Hofer, Huron SD

Grand Prize

Team entry (2 person) into the Wounded Warriors Ice Tournament, Woodland Resort Devils Lake ND January 15/16. Lodging included at Woodland Resort. (Gear provided if needed) Publication in Dakota Country Magazine, and local newspapers. An opportunity to read your submission on American Heroes Outdoors TV.

  • Top 5 submissions will receive an American Heroes Outdoors T-Shirt and Decal
  • All participants will receive an American Heroes Outdoors Decal

General Guidelines

Freedom is different for everyone. Tell us what it means to you and let us know why you have the freedom you do today.






Recently American Heroes Outdoors TV along with Woodland Resort and Dakota Country Magazine sponsored a writing contest for youth. The writers only guideline was to talk about what freedom means to them.

All too often freedom is overcomplicated with analysis and abused as an excuse for one’s actions. By limiting the age group for the contest we were able to bring freedom back to the basics.

The raw wisdom and honesty in the essays made reading them very special… which in turn made selecting a winner difficult. In our eyes every single submission was worthy of a blue ribbon and we were proud to read their thoughts. However, for the sake of the contest we whittled it down to two and from there we decided to choose two winners.

Both Alyssa’s and Miles’ entries talked about freedom and what the word itself meant. They both talked about specific examples in their own lives but one thing remained the same, just as it had in all the other entries: Writers talked about the price paid for freedom. They talked about Heroes who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Someone once defined a Hero as, “An ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honor, and self-sacrifice.” They couldn’t be more right, and as we read essay after essay we realized that our writers nailed it. No matter what freedom means to each of us there are people who will do anything necessary to secure that freedom. This selflessness is why we are the greatest nation in the world.

As Veterans Day draws near we would like to offer these essays as a way of saying thank you to so many men and women who have sacrificed for freedom.

American Heroes Outdoors TV is a Television series operated by a non-profit company that showcases veterans, police, first responders and veterans organizations. It focuses on their stories and show viewers the amazing aspects of the great outdoors.

Check us out at

What Freedom Means to my Family
by Miles Hofer, 9
Huron, SD
Parents, Becky and Toby Hofer

Freedom means many things to my family.

My dad, my mom and I all have different ideas of freedom. Dad believes freedom is to snowmobile and to hunt. Freedom means you can go to different churches. He says many families don’t get to do that in other countries.

My mom says freedom means that no matter where you come from you have a chance to make your own future. Mom thinks freedom means opportunity. Mom thinks that God gave everybody free will.

I say freedom is an opportunity that most countries don’t have yet, but I think about those soldiers as heroes. Freedom of speech and freedom of protest are in America’s laws. Not every country has that.

Freedom means many things to my family. I am happy because I have freedom. I am thankful to are troops for protecting are freedom. America is land the free because of the brave.


by Alyssa Chirstoffers, 13
Moorhead, MN
Mom is Collette Christoffers


Freedom to me means pride. We take pride in what we fight for. We are proud in our nation. Our flag symbolizes our country and we are proud in all of the wars and conflicts we have overcome throughout the years.

The song “I’m Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood says in its lyrics “ ‘cause the flag still stands for freedom”.

Our nation’s flag reminds me of the people who fought and are fighting for our country and our freedom. I remember singing this song in elementary school, and when the song hit the chorus, all the kids would belt it out. I felt pride in those moments.

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not be free. I’ve lived in the United States all of my life and I don’t realize how good my life is. When I hear about other country’s conflict and what they are going through, I’m glad I live in the United States and that I have the rights I do.

I’m proud of our nation and I’m proud of the soldiers who fight and fought for our country. America is a great and awesome nation, and I’m proud to be part of it. We should all be proud in our nation and we should be proud to be an American.


The Indian Cultural Society and the Museum received nearly 60 entries for the Gandhi Jayanti contest this year and received works from school systems throughout the Birmingham area. We’d like to thank the office of Birmingham City Councilor Jay Roberson and the 100 Days of Nonviolence initiative for sponsorship of this event.

Please join us in congratulating all of these talented 6th – 12th graders!

1st Place – Olivia Porrill, Alabama School of Fine Arts, 9th grade, Gandhi’s Robes (artwork). Olivia’s grandmother accepted the award on her behalf.
2nd Place – Katherine Wright, Homewood Middle School, 8th grade, Kaleidoscope of Peace (artwork)
3rd Place – Johnathon Rodgers, P.D. Jackson Olin High School, 11th grade, The Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. (essay)

Palavi Ahuja, Spain Park High School, 9th grade, One Vision One World (artwork)

Saniya Champion, W.J. Christian School, 6th grade, Wise Words (artwork)

Paris Dickens, Shades Valley High School, 11th grade, Gandhi and MLK (artwork)

Benjamin Gerety, The Altamont School, 9th grade, Seeing Through the Eyes of Faith (artwork)

Esther Lee, Pizitz Middle School, Untitled (artwork)

Michelle Nguyen, Jefferson County School of Visual Art, 11th grade, Gandhi’s Influence (artwork)

Kendall Tucker, A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. (essay)

Please click through to see a slideshow of all the entries and check back in the coming months for information on next year’s contest!

Essays included:

3rd Place: The Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. by Johnathon Rodgers P.D. Jackson Olin High School, 11th grade

Honorable Mention: Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. By Kendall Tucker A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club

Let Freedom Ring by Caleb Staddard G.W. Carver High School, 11th grade

Nonviolence, Peace and Love by Cardell Jones G.W. Carver High School, 11th grade

By Kristen Greenwood

Associate Curator of Education for Adult Programs