Friday, November 17, 2023

Windham salutes young ‘Patriot’s Pen’ essay winners during annual Veterans Day observance

By Ed Pierce

Veterans Day is an acknowledgement that those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation deserve our admiration and respect and several area students have done just that by submitting this year’s winning essays in the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests sponsored by VFW Post 10643.

The winners of this year's local 'Patriot's Pen' essay contest
for students in Grade 6 to 8 were honored during the VFW
Post 10643's Veterans Day observance at the Windham
Veterans Center on Saturday, Nov. 11. From left are  
first-place recipient Shea Carey, an eight-grade student
at Windham Middle School, and second-place recipient
Lance Lake, a homeschooled seventh grader.
Shea Carey, an eighth grader at Windham Middle School, was honored at the VFW’s Veterans Day observance as this year’s first-place recipient in the local Patriot’s Pen competition. Carey’s 400-word essay on the topic "How are you inspired by America?" was singled out by judges to be the best this year and qualifies her for the upcoming district competition.

The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society.

District winners compete in the VFW’s annual state competition while trying to secure a berth in the national competition with a chance to win thousands of dollars in college scholarships. The first-place VFW state winner also receives a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national Patriot’s Pen contest.

“I thought it was such an amazing thing to be recognized in this way,” Carey said. “I have always loved writing and because many of my family members served in the Army, I wanted to express my gratitude to them through this essay.”

She said that her best friend Taylor encouraged her to enter the contest and encouraged her as she was writing it.

It took about three days to compose the essay and almost a week to read it over and make revisions before submitting her entry.

“I’m not sure what my chances will be in the state because there are so many amazing writers in Maine,” Carey said. “I am fully committed to doing this and am grateful to have won and to have had a chance to read my essay at this event today.”

Carey said she enjoys writing to express her creativity but thinks she may ultimately pursue a career in teaching and education when she is an adult.

She received a check for $200 for winning the local contest and intends to save the money for when she attends college.

Lance Lake, a seventh grader from Gray who is homeschooled, took home second place in the local Patriot’s Pen competition for the second consecutive year. In 2022, he won second place as a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy.

Lake said it took him about a week to come up with an idea for his essay and he wanted to enter the contest again this year because it has helped him grow as a person.

“It’s important because it proves responsibility and maturity,” Lake said. “I had my grandparents read it before I turned it in though.”

In his essay, Lake mentioned how the sacrifices made by veterans and military members inspire him daily.

“I’d like to serve in the U.S. Air Force someday myself,” he said. “I would like to be a USAF pilot.”

He said that in writing essays for the contest over multiple years, he’s learned that it’s a process that requires effort.

“It takes a lot of patience and a lot of thought put into it,” Lake said.

The VFW Post 10643 winner of this year’s Voice of Democracy contest in Windham is Anna Seavey, a senior attending Windham Christian Academy. Because of a previous commitment, Seavey was unable to attend the event, but her essay was read aloud to the audience attending the VFW Veterans Day festivities and she was awarded a check for $200 from the VFW.

The Voice of Democracy competition is open to all high school students from Windham and Raymond, in Grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. Students are asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay (on an audio CD) on this year's theme " What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?"

Like in Carey’s case in the Patriot’s Pen competition, Seavey’s Voice of Democracy audio essay will advance to the district-level and if successful there, she would qualify for the state-level contest hoping to secure a berth in the national Voice of Democracy contest. The first-place VFW state winner earns a four-day trip to Washington, D.C.

Each year, nearly 25,000 students in grades 9 to 12 from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the Voice of Democracy program.

The first-place winner nationally receives $5,000 for the Patriot's Pen winning essay and the first-place winning essay nationally for the Voice of Democracy receives a $35,000 college scholarship.

Prior to the essay awards, retired Air Force Colonel Bob Chapin delivered the keynote address to those attending the Veterans Day observance.

Chapin told the audience that Veterans Day is more than just a day off from work.

“It’s a day of action,” he said. “Former President Barack Obama said that our debt to these heroes can never be repaid but we can honor their sacrifice, and we must. We must honor it in our own lives by holding their memories close to our hearts and heeding the example they set.”

Members of Windham’s delegation to the Maine Legislature attended the Veterans Day observance including State Senator Tim Nangle and State Representatives Jane Pringle and Barbara Bagshaw. Windham Town Councilors David Nadeau and Bill Reiner were also on hand, as was former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer of Windham.

The Windham Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Richard Nickerson provided patriotic songs during the observance and scouts from Windham Boy Scout Troop 805 served handed out programs and delivered the colors at the event.

Before concluding the event with a luncheon donated by Chick-fil-A of Westbrook and Kentucky Fried Chicken of Windham, the American Legion Post 148 Honor Guard played “Taps” and fired a 21-gun salute. VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman and Legion Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault placed a wreath in the Windham Veterans Center Memorial Garden to pay tribute to veterans from Windham who have served in the armed forces of the United States through the years. <

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.