Land of the Free, Home of the Brave


First of three profiles of winning artwork selected for the DOE's “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters” 2014 calendar, which is distributed to schools.

Artwork by Dereck Parris, Grade 6, Lehua Elementary.

Sometimes, our best teachers are our students. When Hawaii public school students were asked to express through artwork the importance of voting, Dereck Constance Parris, a sixth grader at Lehua Elementary, went with a truly patriotic theme that pays tribute to the unalienable right of free speech in the form of voting.

For that, his piece was chosen for May 2014 on the Hawaii State Department of Education’s “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters” calendar, which is displayed at schools. His artwork is also on display in the Hawaii State Capitol building through Valentine’s Day.

In his self-composed description of the work, Dereck writes he was inspired by his mother and by his teacher. “Brave men and women like my mom and my teacher fight every day to make sure we have freedom of speech and the freedom to vote.”

“I decided to draw an eagle and the USA flag because they’re great representations of the United States of America,” continues Dereck. “The eagle is the official bird, which represents beauty, long life, strength and freedom. The U.S. flag of the ‘Stars and Stripes’ represents the 50 states and the 13 stripes represent the British colonies that declared independence.”

It says, "Everyone is the same. So everyone should get a chance of voting!!!"

When asked about the importance of citizenship responsibilities and voting rights, Dereck’s response reinforces the very foundation the United States was built on.

“I remembered I asked my mom why she had to go to Iraq,” he writes. “She told me that all U.S. Armed Forces heroes go to war to make sure that everyone has freedom. She explained that not everyone in the world has the same rights that we have. Now I understand how important soldiers are and how important the right to vote is.”

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