VFW recognizes student essays honoring veterans

The contest was open to all students at public schools.
Friday, November 11, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:09 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Columbia junior high and high school students answered the call of duty recently by responding to the question “Why Are Veterans Special?” in an essay contest in honor of Veterans Day.

Mahir Khan, a ninth-grader at Jefferson Junior High, won first place in the junior high division.

“I wouldn’t have the dreams I have today without the veterans,” said Khan, who also said he received 10 extra-credit points in his English class for doing a good job on the essay.

Alan Hatfield of West Junior High was the second-place winner, and Caroline Pitchford of Jefferson Junior High won third place.

Natalie Lassinger, a senior at Rock Bridge High School, won first place in the high school division. Lassinger said she was inspired to write her essay after reading Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

Megan Laughter was the second-place winner, and Julie Prato won third place. Tom Fay received an honorable mention. All are Rock Bridge students.

The contest, sponsored by the Truman Veterans Hospital, is in its sixth year. Hospital staff judged the entries. Cash prizes for first, second and third place winners were donated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 280 and the Ladies Auxiliary.

Khan and Lassinger each will be awarded $100, and a portion of their essays will be read as part of the Veterans Day ceremony at Truman Veterans Hospital. The ceremony will be at 11 a.m. today in the hospital’s second-floor auditorium.

First Place, Junior High

The Guiding Light for Veterans

By Mahir Nasim Khan,

Jefferson Jr. High School

Through the mist of the red sun, through the masses of fallen brothers in arms, through the shadow of the flag of freedom is a light­ — a light that guides all soldiers in the darkest of times. This light shows the path of what happened, what is happening, and what is yet to happen. It shows the difference between an enemy and a friend; between hatred and compassion; between life and death. This light teaches a soldier what no commanding officer or any drill sergeant could ever teach — a set of morals and principles that sets him apart from his enemies.

Veterans have become a very important part of today’s society. Without veterans, this country would not be anywhere near what it is now. Veterans are soldiers, both men and women, who have served this country in a time of crisis and need. Whether it be on the battlefields of Virginia or in the nonstop rain of Vietnam or even in the frigid conditions of northern Europe, soldiers of the United States have affected this world in many ways. They have the ability to risk their own lives to save mine. They had the courage to fight from the beginning even though they knew there would likely be no end. And of course, they had the heart to do all of this for the flag that stands tall and proud in the morning sun — the flag of the United States of America. As the stars and stripes wave in the wind, they remind us all of the thousands of men and women who fought to give me this free air that I breathe.

Soldiers of America are rendered as some of the most courageous soldiers in the entire world. Among us are warrior of the past that were once heroes in the eyes of those who served with them. They could be just anyone from an elderly man at the hospital or even a Wal-Mart greeter who smiles at me every time I walk through those doors. They could be one of my next door neighbors or even one of my favorite teachers at school. They could be all sorts of things, but they all do have one thing in common — they all have a story to tell and all we have to do is listen.

The problem with today’s society is that we as modern people of the most advanced country in the world have forgotten the reason why we live the way we do. We have begun to take for granted the sacrifices of the thousands of men and women that gave us the soil we walk on, the water we drink, and even the air that we breathe. We are the people that have a debt to all of those that have risked their lives for ours and we have to take an initiative to strive to understand what these people want us to know.

Because of this and many other reasons, this country is where it is today. The veterans that did their duty in the face of death are the ones who have paved the path of the future and now we are straying away from it. We as a society must join together and try to comprehend what these veterans have done for us and the least that can come from this is a simple “thank you” from every person in this country to those who deserve it most — the veterans of the United States of America.

First Place, High School

Courage Beyond the Ordinary

By Natalie Lassinger,

Rock Bridge High School

How many people would risk their life for a nation’s beliefs? A certain group of people have, and they are called veterans. However, “veteran” is simply a title, for these people are not only brave and focused, but also have talent and integrity. At one point in their life, they rose to the call of their country and fought with purpose, meaning and reliability. There is a reason why buildings, streets, and parks are dedicated to veterans; it is because veterans were not afraid to stare fear in the face, and leap at an opportunity for freedom. Veterans are special because their choice to serve their country shows a great deal of courage.

There is no doubt that veterans in America are treated differently ... specially. From special license plate numbers to a special hospital of their own, veterans are unquestionably treated differently than the rest of society. So, it is obvious that Americans hold veterans in high regard — but why? Perhaps it is easier to see the impact veterans have on America by imagining what America would be like today without them ... not a good picture is it? No wars would have been won, and security would have been obstructed. In fact, it is most likely that the United States would not be a country at all. The book “All Quiet on the Western Front” tells a story about war from a soldier’s perspective. The gruesome, horrific events he and his friends had to go through illuminates why veterans are to be treated specially in America, for anyone who suffers through these events deserves a lifetime of happiness and bliss, and the special programs that are devoted to veterans are America’s way of honoring them.

America’s very “nationship” was at one time in the hands of every veteran. The freedoms that each American possesses are a result of what some veteran had the courage to do. Courage, that is, to protect freedom with their life. How many people would risk their life for a nation’s beliefs? Not many, but these special veterans most certainly have.

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