Southeast Alaska Disabled American Veteran (DAV) Chapter 4 and Bullwinkle's Pizza sponsored an essay contest entitled, "What a Veteran Means to Me."
Juneau students from the third, fourth, and fifth grades were asked to research some of our country's history and talk to veterans they may know. They were then invited to write an essay, in their own words, explaining why veterans are so important to America and why should they be remembered on Veteran's Day.
The purpose of this essay was to increase children's awareness of veterans and to give them an opportunity to share what they learned. The chapter awarded first and second prize U.S. Savings Bonds ($100 and $75) to winning essay writers.
Tyler Houseweart of Auke Bay Elementary School won first place, and Maggie Meiners of Auke Bay Elementary School took second.
Winners were also awarded gift certificates from Bullwinkle's Pizza and other entertainment certificates. Honorable mention awards were also given a gift certificate from Bullwinkle's Pizza.
The DAV, which was congressionally chartered in 1932, works for the physical, social, mental, and economic rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans.
It works with the Veterans Administration in obtaining fair and just compensation, adequate and sympathetic medical care, and suitable gainful employment for those Veterans who have been disabled in the service of our country.
The following are the winning essays:
Tyler Houseweart, first place:
"Veterans are very special people to me because they fought for our freedoms as a country and fought for the freedom of slaves; but most of all, they fought (and still fight) for what is right. Because of veterans, we can speak freely and practice whatever religion we choose. Veterans don't only fight, they also help rebuild after natural disasters such as floods, fired, and earthquakes. A very kind thing that veterans do is give food and supplies to poor or starving countries. I feel glad to have veterans because they have given us the freedom to vote for whatever we wish. If I met a veteran, I would thank him or her for all of their hard work at keeping our country and other countries safe. U.S. Veterans fought against O'Sama Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein and their followers and stopped their brutal slaughtering of innocent people. They also stopped Hitler from committing genocide during World War II. To me, a veteran represents freedom, courage, and honor. Veterans are great people that never hesitate to serve our country when it is in need. Without veterans, we would still be paying taxes to England, African American people would still be slaves or prejudiced, and horrible things like what happened on September 11th would happen very frequently. But we do have veterans and everyone should be glad about that. I know I am. I feel safe and sleep soundly in my bed at night because I know that veterans risked their lives to keep our country safe."
Maggie Meiners, second place:
"A veteran means dignity, sacrifice, pride, and a willingness to serve others. Through listening to my grandpa Herman who served in the Army during World War II, my aunt Mari who served in the Navy, and my aunt Susan who served in the Air Force, I have learned about what being a veteran means.
A veteran is an important person. They risked their lives for us. They died for us. They put in heavy duty work for our freedom. They wear uncomfortable uniforms all the time. My grandpa was paid $21 a month. He said there's a lot of digging involved in the Army; he used the shovel as much as the riffle. He also did a lot of guard duty.
Anyone can become a veteran. People who have served one year or thirty years are veterans. They move without question when their job needs them to move. They serve the United States from all around the world. Aunt Mari said that she had choices to work in different jobs in different countries for the Navy.
There are different military branches: Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Navy. Each branch is as important as the other. You could be a doctor for wounded soldiers and be a veteran. You could swab the deck for a ship at war and be a veteran. You could repair Air Force planes and be a veteran. While serving in the military, you could be sent away for days, months, or years. On the inside you would feel sad to leave your family, but way down you would feel proud to be serving your country. "It gave me a good feeling that I put my life out for everyone else," said my aunt Susan. Serving taught her to value others.
Veterans: I thank you."