Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson

Student's essay receives 3 awards


A Lincoln Middle School student received state, district and national awards for an essay she wrote about the American flag.

Sixth-grade student Lily Harris wrote her essay on the VFW Patriot’s Pen theme “Why I Honor the American Flag” in her class. Her teacher Lori Hastert asked all of her sixth-grade classes to write an essay based on the theme. Lily said Hastert also asked the students who would be willing to submit their letter in the VFW’s competition.

Lily said she figured she put the time in to write the essay so she should probably submit it.

“We mostly just worked on it at school,” Lily said. “We worked on it a little bit every day.”

Lily said the process of writing and perfecting the essay took about three weeks. She even brought it home a couple of times to work on.

Lily’s essay focused on what she thinks every time she looks at the American flag and what it means to her. She then describes those feelings. For example: the white signifies purity and innocence, blue is justice and vigilance and red is for hardiness and the blood shed for the country.

Once the essay was submitted, Lily didn’t really think much about it. After all, the work had already been done.

VFW Post 2321 Commander Jim Shoemaker said the AFW Auxiliary received about 87 entries. He said those entries were narrowed down to 47 and then distributed to three different groups, which then narrowed them down to three top entries. Someone unaffiliated with VFW judged the finalists. Lily’s was selected for first-place at the district level and then went on to the state level. She was then received a first-place award at state too. Districts had six VFW posts competing, while state had 32 posts altogether. Lily’s essay went on to compete at the national level.

“It surprised us when she took fifth in the nation,” Shoemaker said.

According to the VFW website, more than 111,000 student essays were submitted in the Patriot’s Pen competition this year. This particular competition is open to students in sixth through eighth grade. The overall winner receives $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C.

Between all of the competitions, Lily received about $3,200, Marsha Harris, Lily’s mom said.

“I was just really excited,” Lily said.

She never thought a project she did at school would result in so many awards.

These awards will just encourage her to keep writing even more. Lily usually participates in the Sweetwater County Young Authors Competition and is already thinking about what to submit for next year’s competition. During an award’s ceremony in Gillette, Lily had the opportunity to read her essay to VFW and VFW Auxiliary members.

“It was so meaningful as she read it,” Marsha said.

Veterans who were in attendance took the essay to heart and many of them had tears in their eyes when she read the essay, Marsha said.

Shoemaker said since Lily competed as a sixth-grade student she can compete two more times in this category if she wanted to. He not only encourages her to compete again, but for others to compete. He said not only to they receive awards, but scholarship money.

Patriot’s Pen entry

“Why I Honor the American Flag”

When I place my hand on my heart and gaze at the American Flag, I see the bright and valiant colors reflected, and I think of my grandpa. He fought in the South West theatre of World War II and sacrificed to keep us safe. I think of another grandpa, my uncle, and my cousins. These people gave me what I cannot give myself: the blessing of living in a free land, independent of other nations, with liberty and justice. I honor the American Flag with the red, white and blue, because of these memories, the present day I have been gifted, and for the future that holds promise.

Red, white and blue hold meaning. Red represents the courage of revolutionists in their unconquerable spirits to establish a new country and a new idea of freedom. Red means hardiness, our country will last! Blood is red and brings the reminder of bloodshed, not only by minutemen and colonists but by soldiers today fighting for our nation’s independence and citizens´ freedom.

White stripes flow between the red stripes on the American Flag.  As President George Washington issued the request to Betsy Ross to create the first American Flag, or ¨Old Glory¨, she sewed in the color white. White represents purity and innocence. The United States of American stands for independent of other nations. Corruption by other countries does not exist. White also reminds one of vigilance. America must have a defense system to be alerted to dangers that could threaten our freedoms. Vigilance represented by white, means careful watch and protection of liberty.

Blue sparkles with stars. Blue stands for justice. Our fore fathers created a Constitution, with inspiration from history and God. This inspired document is the basis of our laws. Blue represents perseverance. Steadfast effort was necessary to found this nation. With pitchforks and fishing boats, the colonists battled and beat the greatest navy of the time. Seeing the blue of the flag helps me remember that.

With my hand on my heart I hold memories of the past, appreciate today and look forward to my future. I honor the American Flag and all “Old Glory” represents.


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