Four for the Fourth


Since 1978, sixth-grade students at St. Anthony Park Elementary School have participated each spring in an essay contest that was started by neighborhood resident Robert Hahnen. The winners ride in the annual Fourth of July parade on Como Avenue and read their essays at Langford Park. Here are this year’s four contest winners.

Benjamin Franklin

by Ben Reynolds

Many of us have probably heard of Benjamin Franklin. You know, the guy who stood outside in the middle of a thunderstorm flying a kite with a metal key tied to the end to prove that lightning was electricity. Remember? Yes that’s him. But he has done more than that in his lifetime. Franklin’s achievements fit neatly into three main categories: science, politics and citizenship.

Franklin was very interested in science. He was the one who conducted the experiment to see if lightning was electricity. Franklin was also a great inventor. He invented bifocals, the glass armonica (a musical instrument different from a harmonica), the odometer and the lightning rod, among other things.

Franklin was also well-known in politics. He helped write the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1787 Franklin was the oldest man to sign the Constitution. Throughout his life Franklin also served his colony in the Pennsylvania Assembly.

Franklin’s accomplishments as a citizen include creating the first volunteer fire station in Philadelphia The first public lending library in the colonies was also established with the help of Franklin. For a portion of time he was even the postmaster of Philadelphia. He created more effective postal routes using the odometer he invented.

I chose Benjamin Franklin as the person who impacted my life, perhaps not directly, but in the way all of us live in this country today. He was a man who had many interests and talents, some of particular interest to me, such as scientific discoveries and unique inventions. His inventions and discoveries inspire me to experiment with science and also have fun with it.

Franklin’s view of civic society and doing good for the community is also an immense inspiration. He believed in teamwork. He thought citizens should help each other whenever they could. Forming the first public library and later the first volunteer fire department are great examples of the way he impacted our democracy and the kind of person he was. Both are examples of how Franklin aimed at helping his community.

We seem to take a lot of public services for granted today, services Franklin influenced and valued. Without the Constitution we would not have as much freedom as we do today. Finally, without the Declaration of Independence we would not be an independent country.

Of course these are not things that Franklin created alone. But he certainly played a major role in making them happen. I think that Franklin would like the St. Anthony Park community I live in today. It seems to reflect many of his ideas of what a community should be like.

Without Benjamin Franklin’s accomplishments and commitment, it is hard to imagine that we would have the same society as we do today. He did so much for our country and the people around him. Franklin knew that without teamwork, we would be nowhere. All of his interests contributed to that idea. As Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Rachel Carson: Nature Writer

by Morgan Riddle Kimm

It was silent — the world around us — a strange stillness. The stream didn’t run as quickly as it once had, the tree trunks didn’t bend as much and the bird song was a whisper. It was a screaming silence.

For 15 years Rachel Carson had been noticing the world of nature was getting dimmer and quieter. Only very rarely did she see a bald eagle or hear an osprey’s cry. She knew something bad was causing this. She just had to figure out what. And she did.

Rachel Carson was born May 27, 1909, and died April 14, 1964. She was a marine biologist, ecologist and nature writer. She went to Pennsylvania College for Women and majored in biology. In 1936, she was the first woman to take and pass the Civil Service test. After she passed it, she became the chief editor of all the publications of the

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After many years of that, she quit to become a full-time nature writer.

First she wrote a trilogy about animals and plants under the sea. Then she wrote a book called “Silent Spring.” “Silent Spring” is about Rachel Carson’s observations about how the nature around her was getting smaller and quieter. Especially the raptor birds because of an insecticide called DDT.

DDT was highly effective and used against malaria and body lice on soldiers. Then people started using it on their fields and as bug spray. It is estimated that in the early 1700s, before DDT was being used, there were 300,000–500,000 bald eagles. In 1950, about 10 years after DDT was being used all over, the population was 412 bald eagles.

In the U.S. Rachel and many other scientists knew that DDT was the cause of this. The pesticide wouldn’t actually make the birds sick, but it would block the eagles’ enzymatic processes that transfer calcium to developing eggshells, making the eggs extremely thin. So when the eagles would try to sit on the egg just to warm it, it would crack beneath them.

Rachel Carson was one of the first to write about this. The book was a huge success and thousands of people read it, including President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy banned DDT and other harmful pesticides and insecticides from the U.S. Once DDT was banned, the population of bald eagles in 1980 was up to about 115,000. Rachel Carson helped save the bald eagles.

Rachel Carson has made a big impact on my life. If it wasn’t for her, I would never have seen the nation’s bird, the bald eagle. She stood up against the big pesticide companies. She was clever and made a scientific issue a public issue. She is proof that one person can make a difference.

She has also made me think about choosing a career path as a nature writer. People who read her books realize that keeping the environment healthy is important. In her first three books about the sea, Rachel Carson wrote about how pollution was killing ocean animals. And in “Silent Spring,” she wrote about how pollution and the pesticides were not only hurting the animals but how people see the world too. I know that our country will be more careful in the future.

Paul Hewson

by Keagan McCully

Imagine this: You are on the verge of death in a hospital, sharing a bed with five other people. You’ve seen your friends die, and you won’t survive much longer because you can’t afford your two pills a day.

Every day, more than 12,500 people are dying from malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. These are treatable diseases. But the people who suffer from them often don’t have the money to pay for treatment. But there are many people with the means to help. A rock star is urging us to pitch in and try to save some of the 12,500 people that are dying every day. His name is Paul Hewson, but more people know him by his band name, Bono.

Bono has received three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and was knighted in 2007. He has supported over 20 charities and over 25 causes, including AIDS, kids with mental challenges, hunger and a lot more.

Bono has not only supported these charities, he’s also founded one. It is called ONE. It has more than 2 million members who are committed to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa. At ONE, members achieve change through advocacy. They make sure that world leaders keep their promise to fight extreme poverty.

Another program Bono founded is called DATA. It stands for debt, AIDS, trade, Africa. DATA raises awareness and helps solve debt that Africa needs to pay. It supports people who suffer with AIDS. It tries to change unfair trade rules that keep Africa poor.

Bono has told people at his concerts about these programs. In 2005 he got 600,000 new members for his campaign because he was telling people about them at U2’s concerts.

If we help the people in other countries that are in need — like South Africa, with 5,700,000 living with HIV/AIDS; Nigeria, which has about 2,600,000 people with HIV/AIDS; and India, which has about 2,400,000 people living with HIV/AIDS — it can promote health and stop wars from breaking out throughout the world. People in every country of the world are affected by AIDS. We can be patriotic, but we can also love other countries and donate our resources to good causes. Bono is urging us to help. We should help. We need to help.

Bono has inspired me to join his campaign. He has inspired me with his music and earned my admiration by using his fame and wealth to help others in need. It is amazing seeing a rock star that isn’t ostentatious and doesn’t just care about himself. So think about who you could help save, instead of buying the newest, most hip and coolest Aeropostale shirt for $90. Just think about it, and donate money. That is what Bono is inspiring us to do. Bring an end to AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Save the 12,500 people that die each day.

Dr. Dennis Slamon

by Quinn Huff

Dr. Dennis Joseph Slamon has inspired me in may ways. Who is he? He is an American oncologist and a UCLA professor.

Dr. Slamon and his colleagues had been studying and testing to find a drug to cure breast cancer. After 12 years of testing and studying, Dr. Slamon finally came up with the drug Herceptin (trastuzumab). This was the key in curing breast cancer.

At first the government did not believe Dr. Slamon. He then had to take part in many activities that finally convinced the government in publishing the drug. The drug helped many women survive who had breast cancer. Dr. Slamon was given many medals in honor of Herceptin.

Dr. Slamon has inspired me in many ways. First off, my mom had breast cancer in 2007. If the drug Herceptin was never invented, she would not have been a survivor like she is. I would not have a mom like I do now. Every year at the Mother’s Day walk around the Mall of America I think about how lucky I am to have a mom like I do now. And I stop to think how grateful I am that Dr. Slamon invented the drug Herceptin. How he has changed many lives and has saved many women.

When my mom told me she had breast cancer, I cried in my room for a long time. But after a while I knew that she was feeling better. She became more tired, which meant more work for me. But all I wanted was my mom to get better, which she did.

Dr. Slamon studied and tested for 12 years to find a cure for breast cancer. But somehow he knew that he could find the drug. So he kept on fighting and finally came up with the drug Herceptin.

This has inspired me because now I feel that I can accomplish anything I want. I just have to keep trying and never give up, like Dr. Slamon did. If I want to accomplish anything but soon give up, I won’t get anywhere. I’ll just sit there and feel like a loser. But if I keep on trying I can accomplish anything that I want to.

It bugs me to see someone who is about to accomplish something extraordinary but they just give up because it’s too tough or they’re too tired. That’s life. Trying your best and your hardest is the only way that you’re ever going to accomplish anything.

That is why Dr. Dennis Slamon has contributed so much to my life and has inspired me in so many ways. He has changed many lives, including me and my family’s. Breast cancer can be tough, but you just have to be strong and never give up. That way you can accomplish anything you want. You just have to keep on trying and be as strong as you can be.

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