VFW honors Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen winners

MANISTEE — One of the most important lessons today’s students can learn is about the sacrifices Americans made to make this country what it is today.

Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post No. 4499 Voice of Democracy winners were all Manistee Catholic Central students this year. The theme was  "America: History, Hopes, Dreams and the Future." Shown left to right are VFW Auxiliary chairperson Cecila Guenthardt, Samantha Wilkosz (first place), John Slivka (second place),Barry Seymour (third place) VFW commander Donald Vadeboncoeur and VFW District 12 commander Stan Preidis.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post No. 4499 Voice of Democracy winners were all Manistee Catholic Central students this year. The theme was “America: History, Hopes, Dreams and the Future.” Shown left to right are VFW Auxiliary chairperson Cecila Guenthardt, Samantha Wilkosz (first place), John Slivka (second place),Barry Seymour (third place) VFW commander Donald Vadeboncoeur and VFW District 12 commander Stan Preidis.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

One local group who helps in that area is the Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post  No. 44999 and Auxiliary. Every year they host the Voice of Democracy and Patriots Pen essay writing contest for middle and high school students to give them the opportunity to express what their country means to them.

Manistee VFW commander Don Vadeboncoeur said that all the students are required to write about a set theme.

“This year the theme for the Voice of Democracy high school students was ‘America: History, Hopes, Dreams and the Future,'” said Vadeboncoeur. “The Patriot’s Pen theme for the middle school students was ‘Americas Gift to My Generation.'”

All the winners in both levels this year were from Manistee Catholic Central, as they were the only school to submit entries.

First place in the Patriot’s Pen went to Josie Ziehm who received a check for $100, a certificate and gift card to Pizza Hut. Second place was won by Rachel Callesen who was awarded $75, a certficate and Pizza Hut gift card and third place went to Macy Taylor who received $50, a certificate and Pizza Hut gift card.

“We congratulate all the winners and all the students who participated,” said Vadeboncoeur. “These topics are never easy and require a lot of thought and research.”

The Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post No. 4499 and Auxiliary honored the winners of the 2017 Patriot's Pen Essay contest. This year the theme was "Americas Gift to My Generation" and the winners are all Manistee Catholic Central students. Shown left to right are Cecila Guenthardt (VFW Auxiliary chairperson) Macy Taylor (third place), Rachel Callesen (second place), Josie Ziehm (first place), VFW commander Donald Vadeboncoeur and VFW district commander Stan Preidis.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

The Manistee Veterans of Foreign Wars Walsh Post No. 4499 and Auxiliary honored the winners of the 2017 Patriot’s Pen Essay contest. This year the theme was “Americas Gift to My Generation” and the winners are all Manistee Catholic Central students. Shown left to right are Cecila Guenthardt (VFW Auxiliary chairperson) Macy Taylor (third place), Rachel Callesen (second place), Josie Ziehm (first place), VFW commander Donald Vadeboncoeur and VFW district commander Stan Preidis.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

Vadeboncoeur said they also appreciate the teachers and staff for encouraging the students to take part in the contest.

In her winning essay about Americas Gift to My Generation, Ziehm wrote about the sacrifices that were made to secure freedom for her generation.

“America’s gift to my generation is freedom, thanks to those who fought for us and still continue to do so every day,” said Ziehm. “Our freedom isn’t automatically there, we had to fight for it. Thanks to those who won our freedom for us we have freedom of speech and religion and so on.”

This year the the Voice of Democracy top spot was won by Samantha Wilkosz who was awarded $200, a certificate and Pizza Hut gift card. Wilkosz also won an additional $200 for finishing second at the district competition.

Wilkosz pointed out in her essay that people need to have a voice in society.

“As citizens of America, it most definitely is our duty to be active in our society,” wrote Wilkosz. “We should be voting and voicing opinions on proposals. The people should be willing to play a role somewhere along the lines of life. America is an all hands on deck nation and with that anything can be accomplished. You just have to dream, hope and have a little faith.”

That includes the ability to dream for good things in the future wrote Wilkosz.

“As a new generation of people it is up to to us to make these things happen,” she said. “We are the future of the world and will make history one way or another. We can only hope that it will be in a positive way.”

Second place in the Voice of Democracy went to John Slivka who was awarded $150, a certificate and Pizza Hut Gift Card. Third place went to Barry Seymour with a $100, certificate and Pizza Hut gift card.

Making the presentations to the winners with Vadeboncoeur were auxiliary chair Cecila Guenthardt, and District 12 commander Stan Preidis.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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