Ironton sophomore wins essay contest

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Tara Harbolt didn’t think her essay was a winner when she wrote it, but AMVETS District 21 officials thought otherwise.

They awarded Harbolt’s essay, titled “Why Do We Celebrate the Fourth of July?”

a first place honor. It will now represent southeastern Ohio in the statewide AMVETS competition.

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Harbolt’s essay focused on the sacrifices made by signers of the Declaration of Independence in creating our nation. Harbolt selected signer John Hart for particular reflection, noting that in his case, freedom indeed was not free.

“He lost his farmland, he lost his family,” Harbolt said. “He didn’t really have very much but he still decided to fight even if it meant he lost everything for his country.”

She also wrote about the veterans through the years whose sacrifices on the battlefield have protected the freedoms the founding fathers fought so hard to win.

“For over two hundred years, men and women have willingly placed their lives in jeopardy so that they could be sure we Americans could live in freedom. Some of them were teenagers not much different than the kids here at Ironton High who fought and died because they believed in freedom,” Harbolt wrote in her essay.

AMVETS 5293 Ladies’ Auxiliary members Betty Malone and Janet Stamper, who organized the local essay contest, said they were pleased with the effort Harbolt put into her work. Stamper said if Harbolt wins the state competition, her essay will be entered in the national AMVETS essay contest.

The AMVETS sponsors essay and poster contests each year in an effort to promote patriotism and democracy among elementary, middle and high school students.

Harbolt said she had written essays as class assignments but had never entered a contest. She said she was “amazed” that she earned a first-place honor on her first attempt.

“We’re proud of her,” Malone said. “We hope she goes all the way. This is recognition for Ironton.”