Patriotism was the theme last week at the John C. Gainous Post #10069 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Port St. Joe Elementary sixth-grader MaLena Ramsey and Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School senior Cailyn LaPlante were honored for winning the Patriot’s Pen essay contest.
Both students wrote essays voluntarily before Veterans Day based on the prompt “what patriotism means to me.”
Ramsey’s submission, “Why America’s Future is Bright” won her $500 from the VFW and placed second in District 17, winning her an additional $75 prize.
Ramsey said that she was surprised when she heard that her essay had won, but she was very proud.
Sixth-grade teacher Joni White received the prompt and approached several students in her class about contributing.
Ramsey was the only volunteer and White submitted her essay for consideration in the contest.
LaPlante’s essay, “The Voice of Democracy,” won her $500 and also placed second in the district competition, awarding her an additional $75.
“It was a subject that was close to me, because my dad is a veteran,” said LaPlante. “Port St. Joe is a very veteran-friendly community.”
LaPlante said that she was surprised by her win because many essays were submitted by her peers, but was honored that her words were recognized by VFW members.
Additionally, both students received ribbons, notebooks and T-shirts from Ladies Auxiliary President Ginny Seefeldt.
“This is quite an honor for a couple of ladies,” said Post Commander Rodney Herring.
The families of both students were attended the event and Ramsey and LaPlante led the post in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
After receiving their awards, each student read their essays aloud and received standing ovations from the audience.