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“Why is the Veteran Important?”

Photo by Christy Porter
From left, front: Patriot’s Pen winners Josephine Gifford, Landrum McNiell, Peyton Taylor, Alexis Buchanan and Claire Benoist; back: VFW Commander Billie Krewson, Auxiliary President Princess Fahnestock, Patriot’s Pen winner Lillian Godi, Voice of Democracy winner Aubri Tillery and Patriot’s Pen winner Isabella Cook.

By Christy Porter, Managing Editor

Licking Memorial Post 6337 held the 2022-23 Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Awards Banquet Monday evening at the VFW Hall. Students from three area schools were recognized for their participation and winning essays.

The evening began with a plentiful and appetizing buffet that included pork, lasagna, chicken pasta salad, an assortment of vegetables, garlic biscuits and biscuits, all prepared by VFW member Ed and auxiliary member Joyous Folger. Members of the auxiliary provided a tempting assortment of desserts.

VFW Commander Billie Krewson then welcomed attendees to the awards program, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Participation in the 2022-23 Voice of Democracy and the Patriot’s Pen competition for this area included 77 essays.

Students have the opportunity to progress through four levels of advancement, beginning with the local VFW Post level, they then may progress to the VFW Regional District level, advance to the VFW State Department level and finally to the VFW National competition. Honors and prizes are available at all levels of competition.

VFW Commander Billie Krewson and Auxiliary President Princess Fahnestock represented the Licking Memorial Post 6337 in the competitions. Participating schools and principals were, from Houston, Tracy Hughes; from Licking, Doug Dunn and Jarad Rinne; and from Raymondville, Dana Buschmann.

Local judges were comprised of VFW and Auxiliary members; this year’s committee included VFW members Harry Brevoort, Ed Folger and Aaron Hall; and Auxiliary members Susan Brevoort, Hazel Krewson and Adonia Rask.

“The winners all seemed to have knowledge and a desire to be knowledgeable about the subject matter and were appreciative of the sacrifices made by our veterans,” shared local judge Harry Brevoort.

Patriot’s Pen first place winners from Houston and Licking, and second place winner from Raymondville presented their essays, followed by the Voice of Democracy first place winner presentation.

The Patriot’s Pen is a nationwide, VFW-sponsored essay competition for grades six to eight. Students are given the opportunity to express their opinion on a patriotic theme, improve their writing skills and compete for awards and prizes.

The 2022-23 theme was, “My Pledge to Our Veterans.”

Participation required that there must be an adult supervisor, a local VFW post and VFW contact member, and the essay must be submitted by the contest deadline. The faculty supervisors were Kathy Bradshaw and Andrea Williams, from Houston; Katrina Tillery, from Licking; and Charlene Bever, from Raymondville.

Every aspect of criteria, including theme knowledge, development and clarity in expression, was judged on a point system.

Essays are 300-400 typewritten words in length and must be the students’ original work and thoughts.

Patriot’s Pen winners included:

From Houston: first place, Landrum McNiell; second place, Isabella Cook; third place, Claire Benoist.

From Licking: first place, Lillian Godi; second place, Josephine Gifford; third place, Peyton Taylor.

From Raymondville: first place, April Hamilton; second place, Alexis Buchanan; third place, Abbigale Spurlock.

Patriot Pen prizes were: first place $75; second place $50; and third place $25; all winners received a VFW award keychain.

Photo by Christy Porter
Shown are the VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen key chains, which winners received in addition to a cash prize.

The Voice of Democracy is an audio-essay program sponsored since 1947 by the VFW for students’ grades nine to 12. Each year, nearly 40,000 students express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed essay. Prizes, scholarships and a trip to Washington D.C. are awarded at the various levels of competition.

The Voice of Democracy 2022-23 Theme was, “Why is the Veteran Important?”

The Voice of Democracy VFW chairperson was Billie Krewson; and the faculty supervisor was Katrina Tillery, from Licking.

The essay must be an original work with an audio length of three to five minutes. The submission was an audio recording of the essay as well as written form.

Judging was done on a point system, which included the originality and treatment of the theme, showing imagination and human interest. Content must be a clearly expressed, organized development of the theme. The delivery of the essay must be spoken in a clear and credible manner.

Voice of Democracy winner was Aubri Tillery, of Licking.

“A veteran represents a strong person… selflessness… (they) symbolize true leadership, other countries honored our veterans… we can learn from them… they can teach us to appreciate where we are… all veterans are important,” said Tillery, summarizing with, “There is no way to ever repay these truly kind yet steadfast people… we should live lives that honor the cost they paid.”

Tillery was the recipient of a first place prize of $200 and a VFW award keychain.

Photos by Christy Porter

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