Middle-school student wins award for patriotic essay
When confronted with the question of who today’s patriots are, Carson Valley Middle School eighth-grader Catie Davis wrote her gut feelings about the subject.
Her observations of the different types of patriots earned her a first-place award for the district in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriotic Essay Contest, Patriot’s Pen, advancing her into state competition and possibly national.
“I wrote about everyday people, how anyone can be a patriot,” said Catie, 13, of Gardnerville. “If they put up a flag every day, it shows that they love the U.S.”
In her essay, Catie talks about her grandfather, who puts up a flag every morning.
“I think of my grandfather, who slowly shuffles down the driveway every day to hang up his crisp red, white and blue flag so that everyone in the neighborhood can think about the meaning of the symbol,” she said.
Genevieve West of VFW Ladies Auxiliary 8583 of Gardnerville handed Catie a certificate of merit, a medal and two checks – $150 from the Ladies Auxiliary and $100 from the district – in front of Catie’s advanced English class.
“Catie will go against five other districts in the state,” said West. “We’re hoping that she will pass through state and go to national.”
Last year Catie’s classmate Julia Miller, now in eighth grade, was the first-place winner in the state competition for her essay on “What does service to America mean to me.” She received more than $1,775 from VFW posts around the state for her effort.
Patriot’s Pen is open to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. Essays must be 300-400 words in length. This year there were three or four judges who read about 200 essays written by students in the district. In the state competition, Catie’s essay will compete against five winning essays from other districts in the state.
Catie said she has no family in the military, but she does know a couple of family friends who are in the service.
Although the topic of her essay is serious, Catie said she normally has a humorous way of writing and she would eventually like to write fiction. Her mother is a writer as well.
“I’m surprised I won because there are a lot of good writers in my class,” said Catie. “I’m really interested in writing. I think it’s really fun to make up a story.”
If Catie’s essay wins at the state level, she will compete against 53 other states. The first-place award is a $10,000 savings bond, with the top 29 receiving between $1,000 and $7,000 bonds.
The following is Catie’s essay:
Love for the red, white and blue
There are many different levels of patriotism. Some levels are obvious and people notice them and even give medals to these people for heroic acts of patriotism. These are people who are willing to risk their lives for this country. They not only wake up every morning to make this country better, they will die for the place they love. I know when I say that you probably think of veterans and soldiers, and they definitely are patriots. But there are many others that risk their lives and aren’t so easily recognizable. Fire fighters, police men and doctors often risk teir lives in one way or another. These patriots sacrifice in the highest way for their country. With their everyday lives they prove that to be a patriot you don’t have to have hundreds of dollars, or the greates education. To be a patriot like this, you don’t have to have things – you have to have heart. In fact, to be a patriot with the highest calling, anyone can be it if they just have the courage to defend the ideals that make my country great!
The next level that I see is a set of people who use their lives to do jobs that help America stay great. Then there are those that wake up and help this beautiful country become a better place. It may be a kindergarten teacher, helping children become better citizens by teaching them how to share. It may be judges helping to keep things fair and equal in a trial. It may even be a trash man, just going through and keeping this beautiful place clean!
Finally, there is also a level that never gets recognized and somehow makes the widest contribution of all. There are the people that live their lives in an unremarkable way, and don’t even know they are patriots. They follow the laws of the land in their lives quietly and because of them, we have a great society. I think of my grandfather, who slowly shuffles down the driveway every day to hang up his crisp red, white and blue flag so that everyone in the neighborhood can think about the meaning of the symbol. I think that it is the highest form of patriotism – to live a good life as a citizen who respects this country. That contribution makes this country what it is today.