By David Martin

Essayist shares what patriotism means to her


David Martin

Madelyn Thomas reads her Patriot's Pen essay on what patriotism means to her at Riverview Cemetery Monday morning as part of the services hosted by the American Legion and the VFW. Thomas' essay placed 11th at the national Patriot's Pen competition.

Monday morning, a 12-year-old Lincoln Middle School student shared what patriotism means to her before a group of veterans and residents assembled to pay their respects on Memorial Day.

The essay Madelyn Thomas wrote resonated with judges, earning first place in state and district contests and placing 11th nationally. For Thomas, finding out the essay was so well-regarded was a surprise.

"It was kind of shocking," she recalls.

Her grandfather texted her while she was in class with the news.

The Thomas family are no strangers to the contest, which is hosted by the VFW, with each post hosting their own contest and sending winners to larger competitions. Courtney Thomas, Madelyn's mother, said she and her husband, a Navy veteran, had to stop judging the contest because Madelyn had entered. For Madelyn, the decision to enter came after talking with her neighbors, members of VFW Post 2321.

While most children struggle with knowing what they want to be when they grow up, Madelyn's mind is already set -- she wants to be a teacher at Truman Elementary School.

"I loved being a student there and I have a lot of memories there," she said.

What is Patriotism to me?

By Madelyn Thomas

Patriotism is important because it brings people together, and you can unite people from different backgrounds. Patriotism is also important because it puts other people's needs above your own. It shows support for those who have served and are serving our country, and it makes your community a better place to live

Patriotism to me is showing appreciation to my country, respecting its traditions, honoring its laws, and loving your country even if it's going through good time or bad ones. I show appreciation to my country by honoring our veterans and showing respect to our elected officials. I show my appreciation to my community by being a good citizen, helping at events, showing respect to our neighbors, and keeping our community safe and clean for others.

Patriotism to me is also volunteering your time to help others, honoring our county's flag, lending a hand to veterans and soldiers, and honoring the fallen soldiers and treating them with respect. Patriotism is also supporting our economy and small businesses, being responsible for what you say about leaders and government officials, voting, and paying your taxes.

I also believe that patriotism means to honor other' opinions, be kind to others, and to try to make the world a better place. Patriotism is sticking with your country no matter what, recognizing what your country and community needs, and meeting those need to your best ability. Patriotism is showing devotion to your country and loving it, no matter what, even if it is going through tough times, or is just living the dream.

Patriotism is being proud of your country, knowing proper etiquette when you sing your country's national anthem, and learning and understanding the meaning of our country's Pledge of Allegiance. Patriotism is learning how to treat your country's flag, and how to fly it correctly.

Patriotism to me is helping the VFW pack Christmas boxes for the troops overseas, and making Christmas cards for them. Patriotism is lending a hand with Citywide Cleanup, serving dinner at the senior center, and packing shoeboxes to send to the children who can't afford presents.

In conclusion, everyone should do their part to be the best patriot they can be and love their country. Thanks to patriotism, veterans are recognized for all they do to serve our country, and we can make our community a better place to live!


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