Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen top three recognized
Submitted by Patty Locher
Youth Programs Chairwoman
Sabetha VFW Memorial Post 7285
On Tuesday evening, Nov. 14, Sabetha Memorial Post 7285 of Veterans of Foreign Wars held an awards ceremony to recognize the top three essayists in the annual Voice of Democracy audio essay contest for high school students, and in the annual Patriot’s Pen essay contest for middle school students.
The 2023 theme for this year’s Voice of Democracy audio essay contest was “What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?” First-place winner is Haven Knapp, who received a scholarship of $500; second-place winner is Kylah Edelman, who received a $250 scholarship; third place winner is Ian Deters, who received a $150 scholarship.
No other contestants took the Voice of Democracy challenge.
The 2023 theme for the Patriot’s Pen essay contest was “How are you inspired by America?” First-place winner is Nevaeh Hill, who received a $200 scholarship; second-place winner is Stephen Knapp, who received a $150 scholarship; third place winner is Easton Renyer, who received a $100 scholarship.
Other Patriot’s Pen essayists taking the Patriot’s Pen challenge were Ava Grimm, Sophie Leman, Mallorie Schultejans, Keirzyn Stinnett, Livie Strahm and Malachi Strahm.
The first-place entry for each contest was forwarded to Department of Kansas’ First District for higher competition.
VFW Post 7285 appreciates all those students who accepted the challenge to submit an essay on the appropriate theme. We encourage all eligible students, including those who entered this year to step up to the challenge to enter these contests in 2024. Eighth grade students who will be high school students next year are encouraged to take the Voice of Democracy audio essay challenge.
Voice of Democracy winning essay
“What are the Greatest Attributes of our Democracy?”
By: Haven Knapp
There are many attributes that make our country great. Something important to note is that our country is actually a Republic, not a Democracy. A Democracy is ruled by the majority, whereas our Republic has various features that protect the minority from being overrun by the majority. The Constitution is the second-greatest attribute of our Republic. The greatest attribute is that we honored God in the formation of our nation. Our country was founded on Christian principles. The Bible was consulted 16 times more than any other source!
The free exercise of religion is one of the greatest freedoms we enjoy. It was very important to our founding fathers. That is probably why it is in the first amendment. We have the freedom to worship God according to our conscience. The government does not tell us what to believe or how to practice our faith. We have the right to go to church and to other religious activities. We can speak about what we believe. We are not physically persecuted for faith. Why is freedom of religion so important? Well, in a country where there is no religious liberty, your entire livelihood could depend on a ruler’s religious persuasion or affiliation. If your freedom is based on whoever is ruling at the moment, then your freedom to practice your faith can be easily lost. You might have to hide or flee and leave your property behind.
I would like to briefly show some ways in which there is attack on the first amendment today. During Covid, the government decided it was not safe for people to gather for worship, so they imposed lock downs in various states and cities. The government obviously had no right to do so, as the First Amendment grants us freedom of religion and freedom to assemble.
Another example of threats to religious liberty is a man named Jack Phillips, owner of a cake company in Colorado. He was asked to make a cake for a gay wedding and refused because of his religious beliefs. The two men then sued him. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in his favor, but other lawsuits were then filed against him. Even if you win in court, is it worth it? The huge amount of time, the energy, the money, the harassment, the hate. It would be so simple to just submit and be quiet, and that is a way that freedom of religion can be stifled.
The Bill of Rights also grant us freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We have the right to voice our beliefs and opinions and to differ from other people and from the government. If we did not have this right, the government could easily deceive us by controlling the flow of information and knowledge, and hiding the truth from us. They would be the only ones able to write and speak. They would be the only source of information. We could never know the truth, never be exposed to new ideas. Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are examples of recent attempts to infringe on free speech. If you verbalize views that these social media companies find offensive and politically incorrect, they can block your content, remove your financial compensation, or remove your account altogether.
The founders’ desire to honor God in our form of government, and the rights and freedoms granted to us in the Bill of Rights, these are just a few of the greatest attributes of our Constitutional Republic. We need to be aware of these attributes. Freedom isn’t free. If we want to stay free, to keep our rights, we need to start standing up and defending them. I have deliberately showed ways in which our rights are being infringed upon. We need to be aware of this. We need to fight for our freedom.
Patriot’s Pen Winning Essay
Why I’m inspired by America
By Nevaeh Hill
Within the first week of eighth grade, we had a discussion in Social Studies about history. My teacher asked us why learning about history was important. Many people said “It isn’t important,” or “It isn’t necessary to teach in school,” or even “It already happened, why do we have to relearn about it?” But a select few, including myself, said that history is extremely meaningful. When we learn about history, we learn about our mistakes, and these can teach us how to act in the future. This is what America had given to my generation: their memories.
Our ancestors suffered through times of great and traumatic hardship. Millions of people have died, lost a family member, or went through emotional trauma, and their memories were preserved for us to read. The Americans who came before us gave us their memories so that we can learn from their struggles and mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. George Santayana, a novelist and philosopher, once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This is why we must learn to remember American’s memories, because if we don’t, we are destined to make those same mistakes.
America’s memories have taught us how to live meaningful lives. We learned about 9/11 and now know how to help each other and come together to support each other in times of great hardship. When Hurricane Harvey hit Southern Texas, we banded together and supported those who had lost their homes in the storm. We are taught about the American Revolution, and now know how to fight for what we believe in and to stand up for a good cause. Women banded together to protest for equality between genders in the Women’s marches. We learned about the Civil War, and now know equality and how to treat every person with kindness. When DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was removed, many people empathized with the DREAMers, and treated them fairly with respect, like everyone should. Our ancestors have inadvertently taught us how to be better people in this modern-day America, by passing on their memories to us.
Some people I would say “Thank You” to would be veterans. The Veterans of the United States of America are people that have fought for our freedom; only freedom isn’t free. These veterans have willingly sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our nation.