Winning a pageant isn’t anything I thought I’d ever do. What’s more, now that I’ve won, I don’t think I fully expected the responsibility, time, and busyness it would bring.
I don’t say that in a negative sense, but a lot more goes into it than meets the eye, in everything from frequently scheduled social media posts, to meetings with sponsors, to appearances, preparing for Nationals, etc.
It’s been a whirlwind for sure, and sometimes overwhelming. But I have to always remind myself during the busyness of it all, of my Why. Why am I doing this?
Anyone who knows me knows it’s not for the obviously “fun” stuff like the glamour, the pictures, or the shopping… I’m actually terribly UNphotogenic, and my wardrobe consists of mostly leggings and my $25 overalls from Amazon! Which, by the way, makes figuring out what to wear in Vegas for 10 days an absolute nightmare lol.
So, no. Those things, while they can be exciting, are not my Why.
I’m reminded of my Why when I see this little girl right here.
Included in the information about me that I’m supposed to send to Nationals is a picture of me as a child. Looking through old pics, I was especially struck by this one since I vividly remember wearing that blue turtleneck. I was busy being amused by my killer bangs when I showed it to my mom, and when she saw the picture she gasped and said, “Sarah — look what’s behind you.”
I looked at the picture again, and as soon as I saw it my eyes welled up with tears.
It might seem unimportant, or even cheesy to some, but in that moment, looking at that picture of me smiling in front of a USA backdrop, made my heart swell in the reassurance of why I’m doing all of this in the first place.
I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t proud to be an American. Patriotism is in my blood, and I was hyper aware of my love of country even when I was a child.
I give credit to my parents for this instilled patriotism, but it was also due to my inherited love of history. That, coupled with my veracious appetite for reading, led to never-ending deep dives into countless historical accounts, which included primary sources of the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers, and many others. My father’s family being Germans during the rise of Hitler also gave me a deep understanding, even as a child, of what a precious privilege it is to be an American.
So if you had told the little girl in that picture that one day we would live in a world where Americans were afraid to BE Americans — afraid to voice their beliefs, living in a culture where debate and opposing ideals would be silenced, where our freedom of religion, expression, and congregation would be threatened, and where the very word “patriot” would be taboo — that little girl would think you had escaped from the looney bin.
And yet, this is our current reality.
So this is my Why, and my purpose. As Miss South Carolina FOR America, I want to set an example for every young girl, boy, man and woman, the importance of defending and using our First Amendment right – our voice. We each have the liberty to agree or disagree with each other without the threat of being silenced, and nobody can take that freedom from us unless we let them.