“One day I think all the fighting will stop,” Costello said. “I know it is a lot to hope for, but I don’t rule it out as a possibility.”
Exhibiting a great amount of faith in his generation, Costello said he believes people his age are more accepting of those who are different and work together without worrying about someone’s race, religion, background or sexual orientation.
“Our generation is more connected and we do more together without prejudice or tension,” he said.
Ideally, Costello said, he would like to see America’s political leaders and citizens come to an agreement on all fronts and work together to create a better world.
“Perhaps one day all the leaders will look back and say, ‘What are we doing?’,” he said.
Costello recently was honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Silver State Post 3396 for a speech he wrote titled “The Generation of Equality” as part of a national scholarship contest. He placed third out of 55 students in grades 9-12 from 10 area schools, and received $25 for his efforts.
The contest required Costello to write a speech on the topic: “Does my generation have a role in America’s future?” The recorded version of his speech was then submitted for judging.
In his speech, Costello writes:
“Since my youth, I’ve always heard the same question from politicians worrying about the future: ‘How do we stop a problem before our children have to worry about it?’
“Of course, these questions normally refer to global warming or oil prices, but it also is an eerie reminder that, when you get down to it, the children of today will one day be the leaders of tomorrow. This year, the VFW has asked the teenagers of America if they believe they have a role in the country’s future. In my opinion, our role is not only inevitable, but also momentous. I believe that our generation is the generation of equality.
“I understand that is a bold statement to make. To say that my age group embodies the spirit of equality more than others may be seen as egotistical or downright insensitive. Why can’t the men and women of the Civil Rights Movement be the generation of equality? Or maybe the people behind women’s suffrage? These will forever be some of the most tremendous achievements in the history of the human spirit. However, in order to reach these goals, all of these great people had to overcome great obstacles. Obstacles of hate, discrimination and even fear. I believe that our generation can remove these obstacles.
“Why? Because even though we’re young, we’re also tired. We’re tired of living in a world where people are constantly against each other. We’re tired of the racism. We’re tired of the sexism. We’re tired of the funeral protesting. We’re tired of the celebrities going downhill because of ignorant statements about African-American or the Jewish people. We’re tired of turning on the news and hearing about teenagers committing suicide because of discrimination against their sexual orientation. We’re tired of going to political rallies where the man who gets the most attention is the one who claims he wants to ‘kill all of the Mexicans.’ We’re tired of the pastor who tries to burn Qurans as an ‘act of God,’ the very same God that the Muslim people worship.
“And yes, we’re tired of the war. We’ve been tired of it for almost 10 years now. That’s more than half of our entire lives. I was eight years old when the twin towers fell. I remember going to school, where the TVs were still turned onto the same channel that my grandparents had on before I left. I remember talking to the other third graders that day, trying to piece together everything that happened. We didn’t understand. How could we?
‘Who did it?’
‘The bad people did.’
‘They don’t like us.’
‘What did we do to them?’
‘I don’t know.’
“Soon after that I started hearing stories. Some of my best friends had fathers and brothers going away. They were going to ‘try to find the bad people.’ Most of them came back. ‘Most’ is not exactly a good word to hear.
“On Sept. 11, an entire country was the victims of an attack based on discrimination. So why, though the cases aren’t nearly as extreme, do we continue to fight each other? Our generation asks that question constantly, the same way a daughter asks her father why he smokes when he knows it’s bad for him. The answer is that while the daughter has seen why smoking is bad, seeing it first hand at the viewpoint of an outsider, the father has already started, and because of his addiction may never stop.
“Is our entire generation pure in this belief? No. But we outnumber those who don’t. We see those who discriminate and we look down on them, we laugh and wonder just how far those beliefs will get them in life, because we know that in the world that we create they’ll have no important place. The world that we create will not be black vs. white. It won’t be Christianity vs. Islam. It won’t be Creationist vs. Atheist. It may not even be red vs. blue. It will just be us.
“So how will we solve the problems left to us by the generations before us? I don’t know. What I do know is that whatever the challenge may be, we’ll do it together. We are, in fact, the United States of America, and we plan to keep the title for the next generation.”