Pam Dudding Contributing writer
The United States of America has stood the test of many trials throughout its years of existence and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are men and women who support this country with heart and soul as well as their own sacrificial lives.
The VFW also hosts writing contests every year, offering teenagers the opportunity to express themselves as young Americans who wish to share their voice.
The Veterans of Foreign War throughout the United States hosts local competitions in middle and high schools annually, challenging students to submit their writings on patriotic subjects, noting, that the competition is “dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America.”
The Patriot’s Pen is a written essay for middle school students. This year, their question was, “What is Patriotism to Me?”
Entrants vie for the top award of $5,000 and last year more than 138,000 students entered.
The students compete locally, and the winners take home a gift card from Craig Valley VFW Post 4491 before competing in District where first place takes home a $200 check. Those winners go forward to State for a chance to share in scholarships and awards between $500 and $1,000 and then to nationals.
In addition to local, regional, and state competitions, the first-place winner from each VFW State Department wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
This year, Makenzie Lucas won first place, while Kallie and Kammie Fisher came in second and third place, respectively. Makenzie also took first place in the District contest and will receive an additional check.
Lucas wrote: “According to Webster’s Dictionary, patriotism means ‘love for or devotion to one’s country.’ But it is so much more. To me, patriotism means respecting the men and women who fought for our freedom. To me, it’s standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and removing your hat and putting your hand over your heart for the National Anthem. To me, it’s thanking a Veteran for their service. To me, it’s not being ashamed of our country’s history and military.
“I think it is absurd the way people are so disrespectful these days; burning the flag, stepping on it, really is loathsome. Without the Revolutionary War, we might still be a part of Great Britain,” he added. “Without the World Wars, we wouldn’t be free; World War One was the ‘war to end all wars.’ World War Two was the war to make America truly free. And we owe it to all to the people who fought for us.”
Over 13,000 soldiers die serving every year. The death toll keeps rising. There have been over six wars involving the United States since 2000. America has been in 12 major wars in total, losing just one. We have a strong military that needs your support. We need your Patriotism.
We are free. One of the many wonderful things about America is that we are free. The right to go to church, freedom to say what we want. Our Founding fathers created the Constitution and rightfully knew it’d need Amendments to ensure rights and privileges as Americans. We have the 1st Amendment – Freedom of Speech and Religion. Then, we have the 2nd Amendment – the Right to Bear Arms; In other words, the right to own a firearm, to keep yourself safe.
The 19th amendment means a great deal to me. It assures women the right to vote. It was ratified in 1920. With their tenacious fight and willingness to be jailed, they fought. They fought for freedom; freedom is what America is all about.
It’s incredible how the U.S. has changed over the years. How much we’ve grown and improved. I’m so proud of what our country has accomplished. I’m proud of our military and what the flag symbolizes. I love my country. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. And that’s what Patriotism is to me.
Lucas, a seventh-grader, shared that she participated in the contest last year and enjoyed it. “My teacher encouraged me to enter again this year,” she said. “With all the stuff happening in America, I thought it was a good idea to show my Patriotism.”
Kallie’s submission included similar opinions as well, “People show Patriotism in different ways. Some hang American flags, and all should vote. It shows respect and love for their country. Our government was designed to give people the option to pick the next leader to represent us.”
Kallie shared that her mom encouraged her to enter and enjoyed the writing competition.
Kammie’s essay included, “Patriotism is very important to the country. It is an essential part of the growth of a nation. It embodies sacrifice for the country to protect honor. It means recognizing and grasping the ideals the nation recognizes. Patriotism is for the well-being of your country, and the people in it.”
She added, “I love to write, and it is another way to help my writing skills.”
Each winner was presented a beautifully framed certificate as well as a gift card.
“It’s really good that kids still take interest in how good America is,” Post Commander Billy Lee said.