James Mannette, 17, of Windham advanced his first-place win in a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) essay competition from the local to the district level. Mannette, a Windham High School senior, was honored recently at the annual Deering Memorial Post 6859 Awards Banquet in Portland for his winning entry in the Voices of Democracy Scholarship competition. The competition encourages students from grades 9 to 12, to express their views on democratic ideas and principals. His dissertation, titled “My Responsibility to America,” won first prize at the Windham VFW Post 10643 last November.
Mannette wrote that as Americans, “. . . we are privileged to live our lives freely, safely, and to follow our beliefs.” He acknowledged that part of the reason such privileges prevail is due to the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I view my responsibility to America as one serving in the Armed Forces.” He drew a parallel between his participation in sports and the military. “[Individual and team sports] helped me develop perseverance and determination which are traits servicemen and women need to work together to build a solid team. I consider the U.S. Armed Services the ultimate team.”
Windham Post Commander Willie Goodman said Mannette’s essay was impressive and inspirational, “. . . with his vision of America, his personal growth, and what he sees as his personal responsibility.”
District 10 encompasses eight Southern Maine towns. Mannette’s award included a check, a certificate naming him an outstanding spokesman for freedom, and a VFW medallion.
|Reading his essay|
During the Portland ceremony, Mannette read his essay aloud to the audience of uniformed veterans, family and friends, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and other guests. His presentation was greeted with a standing ovation. Mannette was reportedly stunned and speechless by the enthusiastic response. “For them to give me such respect is humbling - They deserve all the respect. I basically wrote about personal experiences I had during my trip to the Air Force Academy summer seminar and my junior ROTC group at Windham High School [and] varsity sports. The whole team works together to accomplish something better than one can do individually.”
Mannette was also recently named recipient of Windham High School’s Principal’s Award, in recognition of a senior’s academic excellence, outstanding school citizenship and leadership. An Honors Luncheon for Mannette and other award winners from around the state will be held in Bangor on Saturday, April 15.