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Local VFW post honors students in annual patriotic essay contest

Back, from left, John Beele, post commander of Wally Burns Post 8077, and VFW members with, front row, winning students for the
VFW Patriot’s Pen essay contest. (Nuha Abdessalam/H-F Chronicle) 

Homewood’s Wally Burns Post 8077 honored eight students on Feb. 20 as the post celebrated its annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Patriot’s Pen essay contest.

The essay contest, which has been staged for over 30 years at Aurelio’s Pizza, 18162 Harwood Ave. in Homewood, included four participating schools and 32 essays this year.

“Every President’s Day, we’re here celebrating our schools and students selected as Patriot’s Pen essay contest winners by eating pizza, having students reread their essays to our members of VFW,” said John Beele, post commander. “Our selected winners will receive a certified award on their winning essay as well as a $150 check and salute from the VFW Committee.”

The contest’s essay theme this year was “I Pledge to Veterans.”


Student winners were Aaliyah Lane and Oliver J. Owens of Glenwood Academy; Josiah L. Sharp (who was absent) and Cordell Dejay Donald-White of Parker Junior High; Natalie M. Popelka of James Hart School; and Elizabeth Grace Barlow, Theodore Richard Cutrara and Miles P. Barnum of Infant Jesus of Prague School.

Lane’s essay, “Veterans are Heroes, What is a Veteran?” stressed her appreciation, stating: “I believe veterans deserve the world. I’m so proud of the veterans who fought for us, giving us the freedoms we have today.”

Owens’ work discussed the importance of veterans and the sacrifices that they have made: “I appreciate all of our veterans and their service, the courage to step up and fight for our country’s security is fearless, playing such an important role for our country.”

Gratitude was the focus of Donald-White’s effort: “I promise to contribute to the men and women soldiers who have fought for our independence  in our country on their own because they wanted to and now we owe them respect, grace, and kindness.”

“I will always honor and respect Veterans because of the future they’ve given us; the United States is still a free country thanks to our Veterans. I hope to be as brave, hopeful, and strong as our veterans and serve our country for the greater good,” Popelka said in her essay.

Barlow pledged her respect, saying: “I pledge to uphold respect to our veterans by being community-pledged; I pledge my respect and appreciation to veterans I meet and to keep every veteran in my prayers for God to protect.”

Cutrara’s essay concentrated on appreciation and the severe adversities veterans may have had or have: “Veterans inspire me to honor and respect them, and they deserve to be honored and helped by us because they served us, and now we need to serve them.”

Honor was the theme for Barnum:, “I always pledge to show honor to Veterans; Veterans make up the backbone of my family, I am so thankful for them, and our family will always acknowledge their service.”

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