Students with contest-winning essays read to Northfield’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post Wednesday and will go on to represent Northfield in the state competition.
The theme for Voice of Democracy, an audio essay competition for high school students, this year is, “My Responsibility to America” while the theme for Patriot’s Pen, for middle school students is, “The America I Believe In.”
First place receives $200, second place receive $150 and third place receives $100. Northfield High School student Logan Ledman, who won second place last year, took first place for his essay inspired by a recent visit to Arlington Cemetery.
“As I walked through that cemetery a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but be moved by what I was seeing,” Ledman read to the audience. “A tribute to the the ultimate responsibility that each grave represented − my responsibility − and the responsibility of every American − to uphold and defend what America stands for.
“A growing distrust and loss of faith in the American promise is spreading across the country at an alarming rate. But why? The United States is still the most powerful nation in the world, with innovation and ingenuity that never stops striving to better the world, with a promise that still draws millions of hopeful souls to our shores every year, with a military that holds unprecedented global power to restore and defend freedom, with a patriotic citizenry who would and will do anything to satisfy their responsibility to uphold and defend American values,” Ledman’s essay later read.
Ledman will be going on to the state competition this month, where he could receive $1,000, or even the national grand prize of $30,000 paid directly to the school of his choice, according to the scholarship website.
Julie Odette, the former VFW district president, was so moved by his presentation that she took to the microphone and told the audience that, of the two competitions she’s been to, there has been no entry like Ledman’s.
“I have a feeling the we have a first-place winner in the state of Minnesota,” Odette told the crowd.
Hannah Singh, last year’s first-place winner, took second place. Third-place winner Delina Haileab, who told the audience she was a first-generation American, brought another perspective to what her responsibility to America is.
“Issues such as racism, sexism, discrimination against certain sexualities, as well as discrimination against religious and cultural groups are all issues that citizens of this country may be facing,” Haileab told the audience. “To look past these issues and say that they are irrelevant because they don’t apply to you is unacceptable and in that case, one is not fulfilling their responsibility. We are each responsible for educating ourselves on these topics if we are looking to get anywhere near eliminating them.”
According to VFW Post 4393 Commander Bruce Stowe, there were six entrants for Patriot’s Pen, where students in grades sixth through eighth were to write a 300-400 word essay. Kiara Wynn Artley took first place, and $100, Ava O’Neill took second place, and $50, while Ryann Eddy took third place and $25.
“The America I believe in includes people of all race, gender and sexuality,” O’Neill read. “We, America, are open to new things, different people, and accepting difference as only a unique quality that makes different people special.”
Patriot’s Pen also has another contest for fifth graders, of which all three winners were from Sibley Elementary. Kat Organ, first place, Katie Kick, second place, and Eleanor Lightfield, third place, read their essays on how they show their patriotism.
“To hear them here is just marvelous,” said Auxiliary member Glee Stark, who chaired Patriot’s Pen. “They’re really good and well thought-out.”
Reach Reporter Ida Mojadad at 507-333-3135 or follow her on Twitter @APGidamojadad
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines patriotism as love for or devotion to ones country. However, the word patriotism strikes lots of mixed emotions all over the United States. Some people describe themselves as involved patriots because they fly their American flag outside in their yards, when others see the word patriotism as disgusting, the seed of racism.
Patriotism to me, along with many others, means of course to have love for our homeland, our country, to support, serve and defend, to be inspired by, to change for the better and to care deeply for fellow Americans. After September 11th, a lot of people showed their love for this country by doing things like standing in line to donate blood, registering with the army, or even as little as wearing the American colors. Patriots support the countries authorities, laws, and interest. However this does not mean that true Americans should agree with whatever the President of the United States has to say and be blinded by what’s really going on in America. One of the biggest issues today is that people feel like the President has used patriotism with the American people to start a war with other countries. New posters in store windows along with billboards posted along the roads encourage the American people to become one and to show their love for their country. I believe that true patriotism doesn’t have to be encouraged but is something that we feel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. Patriotism is to be proud of where you are from, and to love everyone around you weither they are natives of that country or not. Patriotism is not to have hate for anyone that’s foreign, or to think your country is better or strong then others for no reason.
On the other hand, patriotism to some people is a superstition that is artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of this self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit. Instead of being just a love of ones country, these people believe that the patriotic individual is blinded by what the government is telling us. That patriots will go along with any ideas the government may have if put in a manner that concerns their country. People that don’t believe in patriotism also believe that to be patriotic requires allegiance to the flag, which means obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother and sister. The September 11th attack is a perfect example to help support this idea behind patriotism. After hearing that another country would do such a thing, people everywhere signed up to go into the Army for war. Without really knowing what they were getting themselves into, young men, old men, even women were willing to just go kill others that had nothing to do with attack in a sense. If this point is raised then the patriotic people can raise the point that the people that did sign up might have been for war with this country but they were standing up for their country and the people that died in the attack. After all, that is the real definition of patriotism.
I believe that there are different levels of patriotism. To have patriotism and to love the country that you where born and live, to love the people around you and to want to wave the American flag in your yard is to show your patriotism. To hate people of different races just because they aren’t from the land you love so much, or to go along with anything the government says without understand it just because they say it will do your country good, all of this is not patriotic.
Different people have different reasons why they are patriotic and how they choose to be so. There is a long line of people in my family that has fought for our country and freedom, even some deaths. This is one reason why my family is so patriotic. Just because my family has a huge American flag flying high in the front yard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long with a spot light on it, doesn’t mean we have the obedience and readiness to kill father, mother, brother and sister. We do it because we love the American flag and what it stands for.
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