Showing posts with label Willie Goodman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Willie Goodman. Show all posts

Friday, March 15, 2024

Windham Christian Academy student wins Maine 'Voice of Democracy' contest

By Ed Pierce

For the second consecutive year, a student from Windham Christian Academy has captured the state “Voice of Democracy” contest sponsored by the VFW and qualified to compete in the national “Voice of Democracy” finals in Washington, D.C. This year’s winner is Anna Seavey, 18, a WCA senior, and for her winning audio essay, she earned a $2,000 scholarship for college from the national competition.

Anna Seavey of Windham Christian Academy, center, receives
a $2,000 college scholarship during the national 2024 VFW
'Voice of Democracy' contest in Washington, D.C. She was
presented the award by the VFW National Commander Duane
Sarmiento, right, and VFW Auxiliary President Carla
Martinez on March 6. COURTESY PHOTO 
Seavey plans to use the scholarship to attend Southern Maine Community College this fall and plans to study early childhood education. She hopes to eventually teach at a daycare or preschool after college.

She said she was inspired to enter the local Voice of Democracy contest sponsored by VFW Post 10643 last fall after knowing several previous students at Windham Christian Academy who have won the contest in the past few years, including Hunter Edson of Windham, who won both the local and state contests last year.

“I was excited by the possible opportunities this contest offered including scholarships, a trip to Washington D.C., and meeting people involved with the VFW,” Seavey said.

Her 3- to 5-minute audio essay was based upon this year’s theme “What Are the Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy” and she said when she first heard about the topic, she was very excited to write about it.

The annual Voice of Democracy competition was established by the VFW in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money. The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000 and each year more than 25,000 students from across America submit audio essays for the competition.

According to Seavey, she was amazed when she learned that she had won the Maine Voice of Democracy.

“At first, I couldn't even believe that they read my name,” she said. “I was immediately filled with joy and excitement when I realized I would be going forward to the national level. I felt incredibly honored that I would get the opportunity to represent my state.”

The daughter of Michael and Maureen Seavey of Standish, Anna is the youngest of four children and says her family was excited to find out about her winning the state-level competition, the accompanying college scholarship and the all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete against other state winners.

“They were all incredibly supportive and encouraging to me as I prepared to go to Washington D.C. My parents were able to watch the parade of winners live, and my siblings watched from home on television. I am so thankful for the support they gave me.”

The national Voice of Democracy competition was held in Washington from March 2 through March 6 and Seavey’s parents accompanied her to the event.

“I learned so much from this trip. The most important thing that I learned is to not be afraid to try new things,” Seavey said. “Submitting my essay to this contest opened the door for an incredible, life-changing experience that I will never forget. I was also able to learn incredible things about our nation's history by visiting memorials in Washington D.C.”

In addition to the $2,000 scholarship she earned at the national level, Seavey received a $750 scholarship for winning the Maine Voice of Democracy and she also earned a $200 check from the Windham VFW for her win at the local level last November.

She said she’s considering using the scholarships she received for further education after she graduates from Southern Maine Community College.

VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said he is impressed by how well Seavey represented Windham in the state and national competitions and very proud of what she has been able to accomplish.

“This year our VFW Post 10643 was thrilled to have chosen Anna Seavey to represent our post and move on to the district level. Anna then won at that level which meant she moved on to compete at the state level,” Goodman said. “We were ecstatic that Anna won, which meant she would be representing the State of Maine in a four-day all expenses paid trip for her and her parents to Washington, D.C.”

Goodman did not attend the festivities in Washington earlier this month, but said he watched it online and was impressed watching Anna march in with Maine’s VFW State Commander.

“Anna is a delightful young woman with an engaging personality and I’m sure this was an experience of a lifetime for her and her parents,” Goodman said. “They must be so proud of Anna, the person she is, the essay she wrote and in her delivery. Clearly, Anna is on her way to an extremely bright future and our post thanks her for her participation in our annual essay contest and allowing us to be a part of this incredible journey.” <

Friday, February 3, 2023

Windham student wins state VFW 2023 ‘Voice of Democracy’ award

By Ed Pierce

Accolades continue to roll in for Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior whose audio essay has been judged as the best in the state in the 2023 Voice of Democracy contest.

Hunter Edson, left, a senior at Windham Christian Academy, 
congratulations from VFW Post Commander Willie
Goodman after Edson’s audio essay won the 2023 Maine VFW
Voice of Democracy contest on Jan. 21 in Augusta. Edson 
advances to represent Maine in the national competition
this spring. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Edson had captured the Windham VFW Post 10643 Voice of Democracy title in November and then won the district competition to advance to the state contest, where he was awarded first place at a dinner at the Augusta Civic Center on Jan. 21. Winning the state award means that Edson’s audio essay qualifies for the national VFW Voice of Democracy contest later this spring.

The “Voice of Democracy” competition is open to all high school students, grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. For this year, students were asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay on an audio CD about this year's theme "Why is the Veteran Important?"

In winning the Maine Voice of Democracy contest, Edson also qualifies for a four-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington for the national competition. The annual competition was established in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000, with second- and third-place national winners taking home $21,000 and $15,000 respectfully. Each year more than 25,000 students across America submit audio essays for the competition.

Windham VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said that Edson’s presentation is worthy of the awards and attention it has received.

“I think Hunter Edson’s Voice of Democracy presentation is so powerful for two reasons,” Goodman said. “First, throughout his speech, Hunter posed questions directly related to the topic which engaged the listeners, and secondly, he provided specific examples and thoughtful, interesting answers to those questions. He gave factual answers about veterans but also went beyond those to give his personal reflections on what the term veteran means to him.”

Goodman said that VFW Post 10643 members are extremely proud that Edson will represent Windham and the state of Maine in the national contest this year.

“Not only is Hunter’s content exceptional, but his delivery is top-notch,” he said. Hunter definitely has a voice for radio and/or television and this is a definite plus for him. It is clear the Lakes Region students know about, and care about, our veterans and I attribute this to both the values instilled in them by their parents at home and recognizing the honor and sacrifice of military members being taught at some schools.”

Edson says he is humbled by winning the state’s Voice of Democracy Award.

“This entire thing has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he said. “When I wrote my essay last fall, I had no intention of winning, I just wanted to write a good essay and do an overall good job on it. I never thought I would make it this far, but I am so glad that I did. I am very thankful for my wonderful school and the VFW for making this experience a reality for me.”

He says that he’s optimistic about his chances to win the national contest but realistic in that his audio essay will be judged along with 53 deserving finalists in the national competition.

“The national contest is predetermined before you arrive meaning that all judging and awards are based on the first audio recording when you submit your essay,” Edson said. “At this point it is only a waiting game to see who wins the national level. In my opinion I believe winning the national level would take a great deal of thought and effort in the essay and a truly patriotic writer whose passion for our county stands above the rest.”

Edson says that he wanted to compete in this contest because it gave him a chance to voice his opinions and stand up for our country’s veterans who have and always will be the greatest heroes of our country.

“They are the men and women who are willing to put it all on the line for our safety and to ensure a better future for our great nation,” he said.”

Edson, who is in the process of determining where he would like to attend college, said that he hopes that his win at the state level encourages more students to take part in the VFW essay competition to boost their understanding of our country and its history as well as honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our country’s freedoms will be protected.

“It is an amazing experience and you get to meet many wonderful people at the VFW and I would recommend this to any high school student,” he said. <

Friday, November 18, 2022

VFW recognizes ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ winners

By Ed Pierce

Three Windham students have been honored as this year’s winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition and the “Voice of Democracy” audio essay contest sponsored by VFW Post 10643.

Winners of the VFW Post 10643's 2022 essay contests
were honored at the Windham Veterans Center on Nov. 11.
From left are 'Voice of Democracy' winner Hunter Edson,
Patriot's  Pen winner Evangeline Williams, and Lance Lake,
who finished second in the Patriot's Pen competition.
According to VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman, the annual competition encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It provides them with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

The “Voice of Democracy” competition is open to all high school students, grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. For this year, students were asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay (on an audio CD) about this year's theme "Why is the Veteran Important?"

Goodman said that Hunter Edson, a Windham Academy Academy senior, submitted the winning audio-essay. He was presented with a certificate for his achievement and a check for $250 at an event at the Windham Veterans Center and qualifies to compete in the district-level “Voice of Democracy” competition.

Winners of the district competition advance to the state level and if successful there, are entered in the national VFW contest with a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and an opportunity to win a $35,000 college scholarship on the line.

Edson said he was shocked and amazed that his audio-essay was chosen as this year’s VFW Post 10643 winner.

“Having the opportunity to go to that amazing event at the Windham Veterans Center was truly breathtaking. I am very grateful for our veterans and the people at the VFW for giving students around the country this amazing opportunity,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something greater, I mean ‘Voice of Democracy,’ that’s saying a lot in and of itself. But I for one am just very happy that I get to be a part of that voice. Winning this year has been a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

He says he plans on saving his prize money for either college or to put it aside to help purchase his dream car, a Chevy Camaro.

The “Patriot's Pen” essay competition is open to all middle school students, including home schoolers, in grades 6 to 8, Goodman said. Students were invited to write a 300- to 400-word essay on this year's theme, "My Pledge to Veterans?”

Like the “Voice of Democracy” contest, the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition local winners advance to compete at the district-level. District winners compete in the VFW’s annual state competition while trying to secure a berth in the national competition.

The first-place VFW state winner in each competition receives a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and competes nationally to receive a $5,000 prize.

During the awards presentation on Veterans Day, Goodman honored this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” winner, Evangeline Williams and second-place winner, Lance Lake.

Williams is a sixth grader at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $200 for her winning essay. Lake also is a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $150 for his second-place essay.

Each year, more than 68,800 students in grades 6 to 8 enter the VFW’s “Patriot’s Pen” youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards.

Established in 1947, 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. <

Veterans Day observance honors Windham residents who served

By Ed Pierce

Windham has a long and proud tradition of honoring those who served in the military and on Friday, Nov. 11, once again the community gathered at the Windham Veterans Center to say thanks to local veterans for their sacrifices while in uniform.

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148
bugler Linwood Bailey plays 'Taps' during
a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11 to commemorate
Veterans Day at the Windham Veterans Center.
During a ceremony led by VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman, local veterans were recognized for their contributions and treated to a lunch donated by area businesses.

“Veterans Day honors the duty, sacrifice and service of our veterans,” Goodman said. “We cannot ever forget what they have given our nation.”

Goodman then introduced guest speaker Kevin Demmons of East Winthrop, an inspiring Afghanistan veteran and a former U.S. Army paratrooper who uses his military background to help others as a strength and conditioning coach, a life skills coach, and a motivational speaker in the Bangor area.

“Like many combat soldiers when I came home, I brought back some baggage,” Demmons said. “You don’t just forget about that feeling when you think you are going to die, or even worse the sights and smells of your brothers dying.”

He joined the Army in January 2011 and later that year saw combat against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Paktia province and saw many people, both soldiers, civilians and the enemy lose their lives, leading to his ongoing sense of unhappiness and depression.

“It was war, it was hard times and there are things you don’t forget,” Demmons said. “I had a lot of things to work through when I got home. I thought I couldn’t be happy. I carried that victim mentality for a long time.”

Demmons described arriving at a village in Afghanistan shortly after a suicide bomber had exploded an incendiary device that killed U.S. soldiers who had simply stopped to give out candy to Afghan children as a gesture of friendship. It was something that Demmons said that he had little time to process as he had to load dead bodies onto a truck and drive a wounded soldier for emergency treatment and then he returned home to Maine the very next day.

After struggling personally and professionally in civilian life back home and out of the Army, Demmons said he came to a profound realization with the help of a therapist.

“I decided to live in spite of the fallen,” he said. “I decided to live in honor of them. Trying to be successful for yourself gives you a sense of purpose.”

Demmons said he focused on what gave him his greatest release from reliving his wartime experiences and that was his ability to train and exercise.

“I chose a path of fitness, nutrition, work and changing my mindset to live a better life.”

That epiphany led him to healthier relationships with his wife and family and a much happier life.

The Veterans Day observance included a performance by the Windham Chamber Singers and the presentation of the flag and colors by Windham Boy Scout Troop 805.

On hand for the observance were State Senator Bill Diamond, incoming State Senator Tim Nangle, State Representatives Mark Bryant and Patrick Corey, and Windham Town Councilor David Nadeau. Former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer also attended the event.

Following the VFW observance, a ceremony marking Veterans Day was held in the Windham Veterans Center courtyard by American Legion Post 148 where a wreath was placed remembering all veterans from Windham who served.

Placing the wreath was American Legion Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault and VFW Commander Goodman, accompanied by Windham’s sole remaining World War II veteran Carroll McDonald as American Legion bugler Linwood Bailey played "Taps." <

Friday, September 11, 2020

Cornerbrook II residents dedicate new flagpole for community

Members of the American Legion Color Guard line up prior
to the dedication of a new flagpole honoring the
contributions of veterans at the Cornerbrook II
condominium complex on Sept. 4 in Windham.
From left are VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie
Goodman, American Legion members Richard Drapeau,
Linwood Bailey, Craig Pride, Dave Rendell, and Walter Braley,
who is one of the oldest VFW Post 10643 and an
American Legion member and a resident of Cornerbook II.

By Ed Pierce
Across the nation for the past 244 years, the American flag has been flown as a tribute of remembrance and a reminder of the freedom that Americans cherish. And flying the flag is a great way of expressing appreciation for the men and women who have served the United States while protecting that freedom and liberty.
On Friday, Sept. 4, residents and a contingent of veterans from Windham’s VFW Post 106443 gathered near the entrance of the Cornerbook II condominiums to dedicate a new flagpole created for the community by volunteers.
The flagpole project was funded through donations and used available space in the existing Cornerbrook II rock garden at the entrance to the condominium complex.
Those instrumental in getting the project off the ground were Walter and Nina Braley, Jerry and Cindy Beaulieu and Phil and Janice Perry, all Cornberbrook II residents.
Janice Perry has lived in Cornerbrook II for the past 2 ½ years and said the initiative was launched to remember the contributions of veterans living in the complex. the dedication ceremony, Walter Braley, a member of Windham VFW Post 10643, raised the new flag for all to see entering the Cornerbrook II community.
At the age of 88, Braley is one of the oldest members of the VFW post and served in the First Marine Division Dog Company during the 1950s. He was stationed in Korea for 14 months, mostly in the Demilitarized Zone and proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years.
He is a member of both American Legion Post 148 and VFW Post 10643 in Windham.
Braley asked VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman if he could attend the event and conduct the flag-raising ceremony.
“I then asked our color guard to participate and we are all honored to be a part of this ceremony,” Goodman said. “The flag will be a reminder of our great country and the special patriotic community of the people of Cornerbrook II.”
Goodman said that Braley is known at the VFW post as their “Membership Guru" because of his commitment to the VFW and his larger than life personality.
Since the national VFW organization was founded in 1899, Goodman said that the VFW has enacted many programs and services geared to meet the current needs of America's service members, veterans and military families, as well to meet community needs worldwide, Goodman said. By assisting with Department of Veterans Affairs claims assistance, legislative advocacy, troop support programs, youth activities, community service and scholarships and assisting in local events such as the Cornerbrook II flagpole dedication are some of the ways the VFW works to give back to veterans.
According to Goodman, the VFW Post 10643 currently has 77 members.
“We sponsor Windham's Boy Scout Troop 805 and they use our facility to hold their meetings.  All veterans are encouraged to contact the VFW for whatever their needs may be and either we will help them or know where to direct them,” he said. “Even though we are located in Windham, the VFW slogan is ‘Veterans Helping Veterans’ and we strive to live by that motto so any veteran in any town should feel free to contact us.”
He said that many times the VFW find veterans who aren't aware of services they could benefit from or don't know who to call to answer specific questions they may have.
“Our members are more than comrades, they genuinely care about each other and we want veterans to reach out to us if we can be of any assistance,” Goodman said. all, about 30 to 40 residents of Cornerbrook II attended the flagpole dedication event and Perry said it was a fitting and patriotic way to cap off work performed by the volunteers in transforming the project from an idea to a reality.
“For everyone who worked on this, it certainly was a labor of love,” Perry said. “Our community is indebted to the members of the VFW for sending the color guard and for being so committed to this project. All of us in the Cornerbook II community are very grateful for their help with this.” <