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Hannon Memorial Award - 1st Place

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Shawn T. Hannon Memorial Excellence in Writing
First Place
My Journey to Service
By Camille Lanese

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.” –Helen Keller

My dad left in August of 2010 for Iraq as a Civil Affairs officer in the Army. While he was gone, I was filled with mixed feelings. The thought of my dad being part of a war terrified me. But I was also very proud of him. And because of his role in the war, I began making a difference in my community.

Fortunately, my dad was able to come home for Christmas. During his visit I realized how hard it must have been to deploy. He left his home, his family, and his civilian job to help the Iraqis fight for freedom. I recognized his selflessness. But I had sulked at home because it had to be my dad who left to fight. I only thought of the inconvenience it caused me. I definitely did not think of how he worked with the Iraqis to rebuild their country. It never occurred to me how amazing my dad really was.

When my dad returned home permanently, I had completely changed. His service inspired me to make my community a better place. I participated in a political campaign. I was nervous about working with adults at first, but I really wanted to help. I also began volunteering for COSI by teaching science concepts through hands-on experiments. During my dad’s deployment I passed out pamphlets for the library levy and volunteered for the library’s Summer Reading Program. Around that time I became interested in working as an FBI agent. I wanted to make America a safer place.
 
But everybody doesn’t have dedicate their entire lives, nor go to a foreign country to contribute. Making a difference in society doesn’t have to mean finding a way to stop global warming or eliminate poverty. Little things like tutoring children so they can have a good education or volunteering for the local food bank or senior center can go a long way in assisting others.

My dad did his part. I am trying to do mine. Every day is a day to complete one more task toward making everyone happier. Even if I am one person, I can still do something to make a difference in my community.

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