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Elks Americanism essay contest winners

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This patriotic contest, sponsored by the Elks, gives school children in grades 5-8 the opportunity to express views on their pride in America.

The number of essays submitted this year from Division I (Fifth and sixth grade) and Division II (seventh and eighth grade) with eight schools participating totaled 288. Lodge Americanism Essay Contest coordinator Susan Shortridge indicated the top three essays in each division were forwarded to the district level. Winners at the district level will proceed to the state level.

The Brainerd Elks Lodge No. 615 awarded the following students for their accomplishment at the local level in Division I: First place: Nick Porisch, Forestview Middle School, sixth grade; second place: Molly Wells, Forestview Middle School, sixth grade; and third place: Shaylee Stroot, St. Francis Catholic School, sixth grade. In Division II, winners were: First place: Anna Chapp, Pequot Lakes Middle School, seventh grade; second place, Joseph Hendrickson, Crosslake Community School, eighth grade; third place, Laura Wadsten, Forestview Middle School, eighth grade.

First place winners received a check for $100; second place, $75; and third place, $50.

■ Saying thank you

By Nick Porisch

Forestview Middle School, Grade 6

Veterans Day should be important to everyone, not just me, a son of a veteran, and not just other people who know veterans, because Veterans Day is about saying thank you. On this day we honor all the men and women who joined the Armed Forces and have risked everything, including their lives, for our freedom. Many of them have even lost everything for our liberty.

Veterans Day reminds me of the main things veterans fight for; freedom, justice, and liberty.

My dad, a current soldier in the National Guard, left for Iraq a week after my sister was born and we didn’t see him for two years. As a tribute to all veterans, my class recites the “Pledge of Allegiance” to the flag. This says that we pledge ourselves to the United States and the flag. That’s what soldiers are doing when they join the Armed Forces, but they extend that pledge from an oath of allegiance to an oath of security, that they will risk their all to keep America safe. Veterans Day is not so much a holiday as much as an idea. An idea to give back to the veterans who have sworn that oath that they will keep the United States safe and free and risked their all for us.

Veterans Day means many things to me, but above all it means the idea of giving back to our veterans. Veterans Day is important to me and a reminder to everyone to just say thanks to those who have served. Next time you meet a veteran, just say, “Thank you.”

■ A salute to all who have served

By Molly Wells

Forestview Middle School, Grade 6

Imagine you’re a 12-year-old student sitting in a classroom. Your teacher is explaining what an exponent is in math, but you aren’t listening. It’s 1941, and all you’re thinking about is saying good-bye to your dad as he heads off to sacrifice his life in World War II.

Your dad is a U.S. Army soldier and the reason you’re so worried is because you love him so much. Why would he leave you and your family? You have to know your dad loves you more than you can imagine. The fact that he has such courage and strength to be able to stand up for his country and risk his life to save yours shows just how much he loves you back.

Next time you sing the national anthem think about why you are singing it. Without every soldier, whether they’re 25 years old, or 75, whether they were in World War II, Vietnam, Korea, or in any other war, you might not be alive today. Your life would just simply not be the same without all these brave, courageous soldiers. Be filled with pride and bravery next time you sing the national anthem or say the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Give a big thank you salute to all who have served, because without them you wouldn’t be seeing the great red white and blue flag waving in the wind today!

■ What does Veterans Day mean to me?

By Shaylee Stroot

St. Francis Catholic School, Grade 6

As I drive to my grandpa’s house, I think about all the great memories we’ve had together. I can’t wait to see the veteran that fought for our country. It’s amazing the bravery and courage that people have, as they risk their lives for us. When I walk through the door, my grandpa’s waiting there for me and I give him a great big hug. He tells about all the conditions that people have been in; 130 degree tents and people dying right in front of his eyes. You not only have to be physically strong but mentally strong.

Grandpa, you always make me laugh and feel special. I’m so proud that you served. I can’t imagine the fear that was swirling in your head and everyone else’s on the battlefield. I admire your courage and love for the country. I think of it as we wouldn’t be a country today and that I wouldn’t be writing this letter right now in this room.

Until recently, I never really knew what Veterans Day was. I am realizing that soldiers sacrifice their lives in so many ways. It is a day to reflect on the many men and women who have not only served and still serve their country, but also to remember the people that have died in battle, and are no longer with us. War has affected so many lives. Thank you so much, Grandpa, for everything. I’m so glad that you are still here today.

■ Veterans Day

By Anna Chapp

Pequot Lakes School, Grade 7

Veterans Day is a very important day to America because we honor those who are fighting or have fought for our freedom. We think of those who have served and lost their lives fighting for our country. We are very grateful to them.

Veterans Day to me means thanking those who are in or have been in the Armed Forces and served for our country. I believe we should thank them whenever possible because they have sacrificed so much for what they believe in and have fought for the freedom of all Americans. Nov. 11 will forever be in our hearts because we should always remember those who have been paralyzed, wounded or killed in battle. We think of those who have lost a parent, husband, wife, grandparent, or child and our hearts go out to them. All the veterans from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are very important to America.

Every day is a day to give thanks to all veterans, but November 11 is a day dedicated just to them. This day is very special to me because I have had five family members in the service, four in the Army and one in the Navy. One of them fought in World War II with Japan, endured severe brutality and starvation, survived the Bataan Death March and was held captive as a POW for almost four years. I am truly grateful to my five uncles and all other veterans who have served for our freedom.

■ What does Veterans Day mean to me?

By Joseph Hendrickson

Crosslake Community School, Grade 8

Red, white, and blue flying high in the sky. Parades in honor of the heroes who serve our country and those who have died defending it. We celebrate this day because of the great deeds these courageous men and women have accomplished and the hardships they have faced doing so.

We celebrate this day because these heroes faced great danger and risked their lives for us every day. They lived in the shadow of possible death for sometimes years at a time and sometimes it caught up with them. But their selflessness is exactly the reason we celebrate them because they gave their lives for their country, their people and their freedom.

With this freedom that they give us, we should honor them in the highest fashion, with our hearts. We show it with parades, celebrations and teaching our youth the importance of this holiday for what it’s really about and not just a day off of school. I believe everyone should honor this day with great respect and be glad we have people protecting us with their own lives.

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” This quote by Elmer Davis says that we will only be free if we are brave as well. Freedom is actually never free and always has a cost; in this case it’s being brave. The braver we are the more freedom we gain.

■ What does Veterans Day mean to me?

By Laura Wadsten

Forestview Middle School, Grade 8

On June 1, 1954, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day so that the holiday would not only be to remember World War I, but all veterans. Although some would say that Veterans Day is not hugely significant, I disagree. To me, this holiday means a chance to reflect about those who gave their lives, be grateful for their service in defending our nation’s beliefs, and a great day to thank a veteran.

First, Veterans Day is a day for you to remember all of the people who gave their lives serving in the military. In World War I, there were approximately 116,516 veterans killed in service. Every one of those soldiers had family here in America that were affected by his death.

Next, this holiday means a time to be grateful for the people who defend the beliefs our country. I cannot imagine what life would be like today if there had never been soldiers to fight for my rights as an American. If there had been nobody willing to fight Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor, America could have been invaded, and we could all be speaking German or Japanese right now.

Lastly, Nov. 11 means a day to celebrate all veterans, and you should use the holiday to thank someone who has served that is living today. Veterans gave so much of themselves when they served and we need to honor that.

In conclusion, Veterans Day means a lot, and we should celebrate by reflecting on sacrifices, being grateful for soldiers who defended our country and thanking a veteran.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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