Editor’s note: The Laughlin VFW Post 243’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay competition, sponsored by the National VFW, encourages

seventh- and eighth-grade students to enter an essay on a specific topic. Laughlin VFW Post 243 chooses one

seventh-grader and one eighth-grader to read their essays at the annual Veterans Day ceremony. This year’s selected students were

seventh-grader Shyann Simpson, a student of Aaron Schellie, and eighth-grader Jacob Koskela, a student of Gary Patrick. Their essays are published below.


English 7

Instructor Aaron Schellie

Do you contemplate on whether or not America is great? America is great because of the different freedom. The Declaration of Independence is defined as the formal statement declaring freedom for 13 colonies from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. There are numerous ways on why America is great.

One of the freedoms that people should not take for granted is cultural freedom. People shouldn’t because it allows them to immigrate and to be diverse. Also, this allows people to pursue any religion they want to be in. Lastly, there is the freedom called multiculturalism, which allows people within a community to have several distinct cultural or ethnic groups. Without this freedom, we couldn’t be who we are today.

Another freedom we have is the freedom of peaceful assembly. This freedom allows us to get married to whoever we want. Furthermore, it allows us to be unstoppable together. 

Ultimately, it also gives us the chance to promote, pursue and defend our collective shared ideas. This freedom gives us the right to do what we want to do.

Lastly, the freedom of speech. Although people believe we do not actually have freedom of speech, we are able to use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages. Also, we can advertise commercial products and professional services. We have a choice when it comes to voting elective representatives and individually, we can speak our mind. Without this freedom, we wouldn’t get a say.

In conclusion, America is great because of the different freedoms we have. We have cultural freedom, the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. Without all of these freedoms, America would be nothing.


English 8

Instructor Gary Patrick

Before I begin, may I say to the fine individuals who have served and are now serving in the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard: Thank you for your service and may God bless each and every one of you.

As a young American, I proudly say we are so fortunate to live in the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, the United States of America. We are privileged to have our many freedoms, bravery and the many, many opportunities bestowed upon us.

Lee Greenwood put it perfectly, “Yes, I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died and gave that right to me.”

We have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble together, the right to bear arms, protection from unreasonable searches and seizures and the right to a fair trial. 

What nation has 228 years of such guarantees for their citizens other than the United States of America?

How have we won such freedoms and maintained them through today?

Through the brave and courageous actions of our heroes, the men and women of our armed forces. 

From the time of the American Revolution through our differences settled in the American Civil War, the triumphs of great leadership in World War I and World War II, America has stood out as the beacon of freedom and hope.

But we cannot fail to recognize the courageous, daring and heroic actions during the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Shield/Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror. 

Personally, this gives me a chance to say how proud I am of my late great-grandfather, Milton Sifford, who served proudly in the Vietnam War.

Finally, America is great because of the many opportunities she offers. A great economy, protections for the less fortunate, free public education K-12, guaranteed right for all race and creeds and a plethora of job opportunities.

Today, our future looks great because not only our past, but our continued fight to remain brave, to provide our people with the best of the best, and certainly our outstanding men and women who protect us.

To once again quote Lee Greenwood: “God bless the USA.”

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