Students display patriotism

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 10, 2003

Most of them were not even born during most major United States wars, and most of them were probably small children during the Gulf War.

However, students across Lawrence County are being honored by the Veterans of Foreign War Post 8850 for honoring the sacrifices of those who fought in those wars through speech, music and writing.

At 2 p.m. March 16, the post will have a banquet for the local winners of the Voice of Democracy, Patriotic Art and Patriots Pen programs at its meeting hall with guest speaker VFW State Senior Vice Commander of Ohio Gary Pfaff with an award ceremony afterward.

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"You always read about the bad, but there are still some good kids out there," Kimberly Akers, the post's Ladies Auxiliary president said. "They know more than what people think they know."

The Voice of Democracy Program is a National Audio/Essay Competition designed to give students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to voice their opinions on their responsibility to the United States. The 2002-2003 theme is "Freedom's Obligation". Students entering may submit a typewritten essay to enter at the post level, but to advance to the national competition, an audio tape recording is necessary.

The program is in its 56th year, and national scholarship funds have steadily increased to 58 national scholarships totalling $141,500. The national finals take place in March of each year in Washington, D.C.

The VFW Post 8850's first place winner in that contest is Joe W. Daniel, a 17-year-old senior at Fairland High School.

"I would like to thank the VFW, and I'm honored to be selected," he said.

The men and women serving in the Middle East are there for the same reasons as those who served in World War II, he said. Their weapons and tactics may change, but all of them have served or are serving their country, Daniel said.

&uot;I am very proud to see another Fairland student excel academically,&uot; FHS principal Jonathan Bradley said. &uot;Joe is a fine young man, and I am pleased he got it.&uot;

Daniel, Bradley said, is his senior class vice president, takes college classes and works part-time.

After graduation, Daniel said he will attend Emory Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. on a presidential scholarship. He will be majoring in aeronautical maintenance management.

Second-place winner Sarah Jenkins, a junior at Rock Hill High School, dedicated her speech to her grandfather who served in World War II. He died two years ago.

&uot;We are obligated to keep the freedoms that the ones that came before us established,&uot; she said.

Her teacher, Shirley Saunders, said Jenkins and another student were the winners of a &uot;speak-off&uot; between seven to eight students. The students researched their speeches in the school’s technology lab for a week and probably spent at least three weeks working on their projects.

More winners will be appear in Monday's Edition of the Ironton Tribune.