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Leeper Wins 1st Place at District for the VFW's Patriot's Pen Award

by Jennifer Andrews on February 20, 2015

Anna Leeper, an eighth grade student at Bremen Elementary-Middle School, along with her fellow classmates, were given the assignment to write down their appreciation for the veterans of our country. After Composition teacher, Kacey Wright, submitted all of the writings to the Patriot's Pen Contest.

The Patriot's Pen Contest is put on by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) every year for the past 20 years. Yearly, more than 100,000 students from all over the country in grades 6-8 participate in this youth essay contest. The VFW's goal with this contest is to encourage young minds to examine America's history and their own experiences in today's modern American society. The students express their views geared toward a specific topic in a short essay. This year's chosen theme was "Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans."

Sometime later, Anna received a letter in the mail stating that she was one of the top winners in the Patriot's Pen Contest, asking her to attend the ceremony to receive her award.

As Anna rode with her parents to the district awards ceremony at the VFW post in Goshen, they had no idea exactly what place her essay had earned inthe competition. As the awards were being handed out, Anna found that she wasn't just one of the top winners, but that she had placed first in the district! She was extremely proud of herself, as was her parents. The veterans that filled the room were grateful for her words that were featured in her essay.

Out of a district that stretched to the west (including La Porte, Rolling Prairie, and New Carlisle), to the south as far as Culver, and to the east to include all of the Elkhart County Schools, Anna's essay stood out the most to the Ivy Tech professors that judged the competition. All essays were judged on the student's knowledge of the theme, the theme's development, and the clarity of the student's ideas. Anna was awarded a check for $300 for by the district post for placing first. The Bremen VFW has matched the district post's prize, giving Anna a total prize of $600 for her winning essay.

Anna's essay has moved on to the State Competition and, will hopefully move on to the Regional Competition. Congratulations, Anna and Good Luck!

Here is her entry...


Anna Leeper, Bremen, Indiana

Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans

Do you know a veteran? Have you ever heard a story of a veteran? If you have, you know what they go through; you understand why most finish their service depressed. Being an average American, I can’t picture this. That’s why I appreciate veterans most: They go through things, I can’t even begin to imagine going through.

            One of the biggest things that these noble people have to deal with the most is death. Death...not a peaceful death, but the kind of death everyone prays they won’t have. They have to watch their best friend, their comrade, die by their side. And if peril should come, soldiers must continue to be steadfast soldiers. These brave men and women have been through attacks. They have been held hostage and undergone things I can’t envision.  

            Second, they may have to live the remainder of their life with the knowledge that wars have altered many lives.  Active wars affect soldiers and citizens alike.  Landscapes are drastically changed by war and families are wounded in separation and anxieties. I give veterans a lot of respect for just dealing with that alone.

Third, I appreciate veterans because of all of their suffering. Some veterans return from war depressed, and have lost many things that will never return. Their lives are drastically changed forever. I have had a hands on experience with veterans’ suffering through the Veteran’s Therapeutic Art Center in Plymouth, IN.  This Center assisted veterans and their families in healing after active duty. I understood the suffering and healing when visiting the Center and visiting with some of the veterans. I am touched when considering the selfless sacrifice of these men and women, which is a deep testimony to their love for our country and fellow men. Veterans sometimes deal with emotional issues, personal suffering, and uncomfortable memories all so that I and all Americans can continue to have our freedom, feel safe, and be protected. This is a very precious gift that all Americans are blessed to have.

This is why I love veterans and am sincerely thankful for their service.  They do so many things for this country.  I am extremely grateful and proud of each one of them. Veterans have sacrificed their lives, so I don’t lose my freedoms.  Next time you see the great American flag, remember the soldiers that have stood proud for it. 


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