Patriot's Pen essay contest winners were honored by members of the Don Cherry VFW Post No. 5083 and its auxiliary.

Patriot’s Pen essay contest winners were honored by members of the Don Cherry VFW Post No. 5083 and its auxiliary.

Participants had to write an essay about patriotism. Winners were Andrew Cotty and Addison Dykstra, both students at Geneseo Middle School.

Their essays are as follows:

Andrew Cotty

Ronald Reagan once said, “We’re blessed with the opportunity to stand for something - for liberty and freedom and fairness - and these things are worth fighting for, worth devoting our lives to.” Those words spoken by former President Ronald Reagan are very true to the America we live in today.

We have so many gifts given to us by our veterans that the minds of us in the younger generation can’t even comprehend what we have received. The gifts we have received include the freedoms, liberties, and rights we are given as citizens of the United States. We have received a stable and safe government which is run by the citizens of the United States and not just by

one person.

In the Second Amendment, Americans are given the right to bear arms freely. This is a gift that has come under attack lately, but it is one that has given us safety. In situations the right to carry a weapon can save our lives, and it is a gift tha we should be proud to have. We have been gifted with the right to practice our religions freely, and that we will not be persecuted when we practice our religion. This is a very important gift. It makes our country unique because the United States allows all religions and does not force us to follow just one religion.

A major gift given to my generation from America is the safe and stable government we have. Many times a country has been overrun by a power-seeking individual who seeks to be the ruler of a country. Many veterans have fought these people, so countries around the world can have a safe and stable government run by the people. This is what makes America so great, the fact that it is us the people who run our government and not just one person or one political group, but us.

America has given many gifts to my generation for which we are more than grateful. It wasn’t me who gave myself the freedoms and liberties, though. It wasn’t businessmen or women. No, it was none other than the veteran and the men and women fighting around the world who gave us these gifts. And to them, I say “thank you” for all these gifts to my generation.

Addison Dykstra

American veterans have given a great gift to my generation. However, most kids my age take that gift for granted. My grandpa was a Vietnam veteran, so my parents make sure that we know to respect our veterans. Without the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, we would not have most of the things we have now. Veterans give us the ability to do what we want. In all of the wars they fought in, they were all fighting for the same purpose, which was to make sure that America stays a safe and free country.

My grandpa dropped out of high school to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He gave up his education in order to help this country become a better place. He was deployed to Vietnam in January of 1966 and did two tours, returning to the United States in october of 1967.

While on tour, he was exposed to Agent Orange, a chemical sprayed during the war to kill weeds. My grandpa passed away on his 67th birthday, due to Agent Orange related diseases.

Throughout the years, many Vietnam-related activities have come to my area. The traveling Vietnam Wall has come to my hometown twice. The wall shows people how many veterans sacrificed their lives for our freedom during the Vietnam War.

Even I was surprised that there were so many names engraved on that wall. As of Memorial Day 2017, there were 58,318 names on the wall, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Also, my grandma, my mom and I were able to travel to Washington, D.C. to honor Vietnam veterans who did not die during the war, but died because of diseases or illnesses due to exposure to Agent Orange during the war. We were able to put my grandpa’s picture right next to where his name would have been if he had died during the war.

I started to realize how much I take everything for granted. Looking through all of the tiny names on the wall, I realize that so many people gave their life to make America a great, safe, and, most importantly, a free country. Ultimately, continued freedom is America’s gift to my generation.