The annual Patriots Pen essay competition is sponsored by the National VFW and is open nationwide to all students in grades 6-8 in public, private, and home schools. It is dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America and to foster patriotism in today’s youth. Over 130,000 students in the nation participate each year. This year’s patriotic theme is Why I Honor the American Flag.
Nancy Saathoff, VFW Post 3966 Patriots Pen Chair, says, “The VFW Post 3966 is extremely proud of the many area students who participated in this year’s Patriots Pen essay contest. It has been very encouraging and heartwarming to read the words our young citizens wrote about their personal thoughts on today’s patriotic topics.”
VFW Post 3966 winner is Catherine Richard. We are pleased to be able to feature her well-done essay.
Why I Honor the American Flag
By Catherine Richard
When I see the American flag, I see freedom. I see generations of determination, hope, and sacrifice. Here in America, we have freedoms that most countries can only dream of. That freedom comes at a price and freedom is by no means free. According to Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” As a military kid I always respected the flag even before I knew what it meant.
When I was just one year old, my dad, an army officer, had just finished his deployment in Afghanistan and had returned to Europe. We traveled back together to America on a space available military flight, a C-17. My car seat was strapped to a jump seat along the wall on the inside of the cavernous aircraft. Toward the back of the plane were three flag- draped coffins. Those coffins contained the remnants of our fallen warriors who had paid the ultimate price on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Years later I recalled playing outside our home on the military base where we lived when the evening colors started to play, signaling that the American flag was going down. No matter what we were doing, everyone, young and old, would stop and face the direction of the flagpole until the all clear was sounded. Even though I didn’t understand why I needed to stand, I knew it was important.
My dad wasn’t home a lot when I was little, but my family and I knew that what he was doing was bigger than any of us. I honor the flag because it stands for those that have selflessly served our country no matter what the cost. The flag stands for the people that give away their time and energy to protect America’s rights and freedoms. Freedom is not inherited, it must be fought for by every generation. To me, the American flag stands for freedom and the people that protect it.