By Rennie Davis
Each year, the VFW Auxiliary of VFW Post 2173 holds a Patriot’s Pen Essay contest. The contest is conducted nationwide and is open to students from grades six, seven and eight.
The VFW sponsored youth essay competition gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “My Pledge to Our Veterans.” All essays were submitted to the sponsoring VFW Post by midnight, Oct. 31 2023.
All essays were typed in English with no color or graphics. They needed to be between 300 and 400 words and contestants should not have identifed themselves, family members, their school or their city.
The essays are required to be the contestants original work and a product of the contestants own thinking. Contestants were judged on the basis of their essay alone and were not required to present the essay orally. They were also judged on the knowledge of the theme, which is worth 30 points.
Theme development was worth 35 points, where the contestant answers a relevant fact about the theme such as who, what, when, and why. Lastly, the clarity of the ideas is worth 35 points, which means the reader has a clear understanding of the theme.
The judge selected to review and select the winning essays is not allowed to be related to any contestants and must not be a member of the VFW Post or Auxiliary. The judge should have a knowledge of history, the English language and the military. Prizes awarded included first place $25, second place $20, and third place $15.
Honorable mentions received $10 each. Each winner received a certificate of their award.
This year’s winners were Austin Beshears first place, Emily Smith second place, and Taelyn Ward third place, and Bryanna Stanich, Madison Shelton, Brandon Singer, were honorable mentions.
This is the First place entry by Austin Beshears:
My great grandfather was in the military and fought for his country. I was in the fourth grade when my great grandpa died. My family went to his funeral and I remember the American flag over his casket and when they shot off the guns in the graveyard. He showed me how important veterans are.
My pledge to veterans is to respect them and honor their legacy. Every home game for football, our band marches onto the field and plays the “Star-Spangled Banner,” to show our appreciation to our country’s veterans. Last year for Veterans Day, we had a veteran come and tell us about his stories in the military and his experiences. He told us about the drills and everything he had to go through in the military. He, like many, put his life at risk to protect this very country.
We have a yearly parade that goes through my town and at the very end, our school’s band plays the Star-Spangled Banner while soldiers salute and everyone else takes off their hats and claps at the end. This is one of many ways to show support for our veterans and be glad for what they did for our country.
I strive to be as brave as these soldiers and do something as important as them. I can research more about the military and learn how they become so courageous, while also being humble and a hero. I could also follow in their footsteps and serve this country. Lastly, I could talk in front of my school on Veterans Day and talk about my experiences with veterans.
Every day thousands of men and women are training to fight for our country and all of its citizens. I pledge to always be kind and loving to our veterans. There are many ways to honor our Veterans for what they have done for us and our communities and countries. This is my pledge to all veterans.