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SAT Essay Sample 1

Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

ASSIGNMENT:
Are there some heroes who will be remembered forever? Or are all heroes doomed to be forgotten one day? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

One of the memorable images from Eisenstein’s classic silent film on the Russian Revolution is the toppling of a statue. The destruction of the statue symbolizes the throwing out of the old order along with its heroes and replacing it with a new. Considering this human tendency to ‘ring out the old and ring in the new’ it is surprising that any heroic figures from the past survive in the history books, but they do. There are some heroes who do not get erased from the pages.

One of my personal all-time heroes is Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. At a time when women were not allowed to enter the University of Warsaw, her home city, Marie worked as a governess before getting the opportunity to enroll in the Sorbonne in Paris. She graduated at the top of her class and became the first woman to take a degree in physics from the Sorbonne.

But it is not simply for her breaking out of traditional molds that she is remembered. Her scientific work on radiation led to her two Nobel Prizes: the first joint with her husband, the second alone, after Pierre Curie’s death. She nearly did not get the second prize because of rumors of ‘misconduct’ in her private life. But she bravely went to Stockholm, despite opposition, and said that she believed that there was no connection between her private life and her scientific work. She died of cancer caused by exposure to radium, one of the elements that she discovered.

Many great people from the past have had their reputations destroyed by exposure of their human frailties. But some, like Marie Curie, achieve such greatness that they will be remembered for their achievements. She symbolizes the human quest for knowledge and the capacity to sacrifice self for a higher goal. Women everywhere will gain strength from seeing one woman who could not he suppressed by outdated conventions.

We need our heroes for the inspiration they offer to us and to future generations. Names such as Curie should not, and in fact cannot, be erased form the History books: they tell us so much about the human capacity to strive for excellence.

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