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Elk Mound students earn prizes for essays

ELK MOUND — As part of their eighth grade social studies class at Elk Mound Middle School, students in Dave Lew’s classes were asked to write an essay titled “What Patriotism Means to Me”. However, the essays were not just for a letter grade, they were also judged by members of the VFW Post 7232 and Auxiliary with the top six essays earning prize money for their writing. Karen Adank and Marv Duss represented Post 7232 and presented the awards at the school Dec. 20.

Cassidy Yakesh was declared the first place winner and received a check for $100, Dylan Simington was second and earned $75, Madysen Borofka placed third with $50, Savonah Thompson placed fourth for $25, Lindsey Vue placed fifth for $15 and Alexandra Jenson was sixth and earned $10.

Mr. Lew was also surprised with the Teacher Award from the Post and received a check for $50 while principal Eric Wright received a plaque on behalf of the school for their support of the program. His plaque reads “Freedom: A State of Mind. A Way of Life”.

Post 7232 is very active with the Elk Mound District in other areas throughout the year including doing a bicycle safety presentation and giving away free bikes, and donating new flags to the schools when needed.

Following is Cassidy’s first place essay:

What Patriotism Means to Me, by Cassidy Yakesh

Love, devotion, support, loyalty, defense—they’re all words to describe patriotism. As Barack Obama said, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” Patriotism is love for one’s country, but it’s also so much more: risk, pride, freedom, passion, trust. It isn’t just standing at attention when a flag passes by. It isn’t just the daily Pledge of Allegiance at school. It’s believing and accepting that every person is created equal, no matter what. It’s truly admiring everything that America has accomplished together. As one nation.

Since the very beginning, America has been a nation of freedom and liberty. Our Constitution is specifically and only for our rights. Freedom of speech, religion, press—the list goes on and on. Sometimes we take it for granted. We don’t even take a second to consider how good we have it compared to so many other countries across the world. And we shouldn’t be blind to that. We should respect our country for providing us with so much freedom.

We show patriotism in many different ways: holidays, memorials, and especially our actions. Holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day are all days in which we honor our country and veterans. Putting your life on the line in order to protect average citizens, everyday, is the ultimate patriotic act– and that is something we should honor on a regular basis. Our actions reflect how we live and how we feel. You always want to be—and appear—respectful.

Patriotism is way more than just love for one’s country; it is devotion and passion. And as William H. Burnham said, “The essence of patriotism is the sacrifice of personal interest to public welfare.”  I think this is really accurate because to be truly patriotic you have to think of your country over yourself; sometimes you need to make sacrifices for the greater good.