Sally Fritsche, a West Junior High eighth-grader, got a surprise in the mail earlier this month. It was a letter telling Fritsche that she was a winner in the Truman Veterans Hospital Veterans Day essay contest.
“(Veterans) sacrificed a lot, and I don’t think we recognize them very much,” said Fritsche, the first-place winner in her division. “On Veterans Day, you should thank them and ask them to tell their stories. No one really pays attention. They just see it as another national holiday.”
Fritsche and three other junior high winners, as well as four high school winners, were recognized Thursday as part of the hospital’s Veterans Day program.
Other winners in the junior high division were Jefferson Junior High students Samuel Thompson, Katie Keller and Rachel Slansky.
Ashlee Battershell was the first-place winner in the high school division.
“It was a volunteer assignment, and I thought it was something interesting,” Battershell said. “I enjoy writing and my grandpa was in World War II, so it was a little more personal.”
Battershell and the other winners in her division, Morgan Williams, Bethany Childers and Randi Mattingly, attend Frederick Douglass High School.
This is the fifth year for the essay contest. All junior high and high school students in the Columbia school district were allowed to enter the contest. Essays were reviewed by English teachers and each school sent its best entries to the hospital for final judging.