Everyday heroes inspire VFW competition winner
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and careers, but De Soto High School freshman Paige Williams knows how to spot a hero.
Paige was the first place winner in this year’s VFW Voice of Democracy competition.
The competition, sponsored by VFW members and Ladies Auxiliary at De Soto VFW Post 6654, asked students to decide whether there still heroes in United State.
“I wrote about military heroes, and I wrote about everyday heroes,” Paige said. “Someone who does good for the community, themselves and others.”
Students participating in the competition first wrote an essay and then recorded a tape to be sent in for judging, said Nikki Leisten, youth chairperson for the Ladies Auxiliary.
“It’s an audio essay. So they have to write an essay, then deliver it orally, and you submit both portions,” she said. “They are judged on whether the words match up. (We) look at grammar and convention and how well it’s delivered.”
Paige said recording the audio portion was the most difficult part of competition.
“It took a day to write the essay, and recoding was a little harder because I kept messing up,” she said.
DHS freshman Katie Gehrt placed second in the competition.
“I just talked about how people in the military who risk their lives for us are heroes and people who do nice — big or small — things can be considered heroes,” she said. “I felt passionate about the topic. When you got down to recording, that was the hardest part, getting it to sound the right way.”
Leisten said the competition was open to all high school students but only three chose to enter. Freshman Jessica Knaack received third place.
Each winner received a savings bond, and Paige’s recording will go on to the regional competition, Leisten said.
“We try to get the kids involved in patriotic things in the community,” Leisten said.
Paige said participating in the contest opened her eyes to the people around her.
“It kind of opened my eyes, I look at people kind of different now,” she said. “Everyday heroes are neighbors and people working in the community that I see.”
Leisten said information for next year’s contest is already online at HYPERLINK “http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=cmty.leveld&did=150”http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=cmty.leveld&did=150
The VFW also sponsors the Patriots Pen for middle school students. The essay contest asks sixth-, seventh- and eight-grade students “When Is the Right Time to Honor Our Military Heroes?”
Seventh-grader Chari Pierce earned first place in that competition. While seventh- graders Jacob Chappell and Taylor Peterson placed second and third, respectively.