First and second prize Patriot’s Pen essay contest winners read their essays to VFW Post 3134 on Jan. 11 and were awarded prizes of a certificate, a flag pin and a check. Pictured, from left, are Post Commander Darin Long, Shane McPherson, Olivia Pierce, Rudy Passamani, Noah Thomson and Hunter LaChapelle.
IRON RIVER—What does patriotism mean to you? For the West Iron County middle school students who participated in the Patriot’s Pen essay competition, it meant many different things.
The first and second place winners for sixth, seventh and eighth grade presented those essays once again for VFW members, their families and friends Jan. 11 at VFW Post 3134, where they received their awards: a certificate, flag pin and a check. First place winners received $100, and second place got $50.
For sixth grade first place winner, Hunter LaChapell, patriotism means the love for one’s country. To him, it is more than just hanging an American flag on the Fourth of July, but that the troops needed to know how much the American people support them every day.
“Patriotism is more than just wearing red, white and blue or putting a magnet on your car,” he said.
In second place for sixth grade was Noah Thomson, who said that patriotism was the devotion to one’s country and that it should be extended to anyone who serves the country, whether that is a soldier, a firefighter or even a teacher.
For seventh grade first place winner Shane McPherson, patriotism means the bond he shares with other Americans. He went on to read that he thinks that the troops are the most amazing people in the world.
“To be a true patriot,” he said, “you show love and support to our wonderful country.”
Second place winner Rudy Passamani said that patriotism is the feeling of loyalty and pride and it means that a true patriot will not be afraid of change, but be willing to fight for the United States as well as be willing to change it.
For Olivia Pierce, eighth grade first place winner, the true meaning of patriotism for a teenager is one that is hard to address but comes from the heart.
“It’s not just a word. It’s an action, a way of life,” she read.
Second place winner Alex Pangrazzi was unable to attend the event.
The VFW youth scholarship program was established in 1899 as a way to stimulate interest in America’s history, traditions, institutions, civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism.
According to Mary Anne Zeller, who volunteered for the recent event, VFW Post 3134 and the Ladies Auxiliary of Iron River have promoted these programs for over 40 years.
The VFW receives information about that year’s essay theme in February. The theme is chosen at a national level. This is the first year that a local student was not chosen to compete in the district level.
“It is a phenomenal program,” Zeller said.
Prize money can be used however the recipient chooses. “They earned it,” she said. “They should be able to use it how they would like.”
The ceremony was followed by a small dinner and cake.