by David Croyle
The Roy Frick Booher American Legion Post 325 in Cowansville held a special observance during the Memorial Day weekend on Sunday, May 29.
Post Commander Jeff Kaufman gave opening remarks and American Legion Chaplain Tom Finn gave the invocation. Then the crowd stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
American Legion Auxiliary President Carol Hooks announced the winners of their Essay Contest. She explained the program.
“The Auxiliary does the essay program every year. The Post (and Auxiliary) has scholarships that, when your kids get into the high school level, you should take advantage.”
Hooks told the story of a student from Meadville that won Second Place nationally and received $20,000 toward his college education.
“It would pay you as a parent to get your child to try it and see what happens,” Hooks said.
There were three winners in two different categories – the Third and Sixth Grade.
The Third Grade First Place winner was Mya Morris from Divine Redeemer School. Mya did not attend the ceremony.
The Third Grade Second Place was Nathaniel Kimmel from Grace Christian School. He read his essay.
“Abe Lincoln once said: ‘…to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.’ We, as Americans, should take care of our wounded and the veterans’ families. Some of the ways we can care for our veterans and their families is forming V.A. hospitals and their foundations. Today, we have formed V.A. hospitals. The reason we have these hospitals is to help the wounded soldiers that need medical help. What they do in these hospitals is amazing. If a person loses a limb or needs physical therapy, the doctor helps them get back on their feet. V.A. centers help homeless veterans. These centers help feed them, give them clothes, and help them find a good job. This is so the veterans can buy a house and live on their own again. GCS, the school I go to, made blankets for the veterans. My class – third and fourth grade – made Valentine cards for the homeless veterans. Mechling-Shakley Center is trying to get people to donate trash cans for all the rooms. One special foundation that helps veterans is the Wounded Warriors Foundation. They help by raising money. This money helps veterans pay for housing, sending kids to school, and paying for the needs of the veterans. It is important to help our vets because they fought for America. They fought for our freedom. I believe Abraham Lincoln was right.”
The Third Grade Third Place winner was Matthew Kolbe from Divine Redeemer. His essay also encouraged participation by the government and community to support veterans in a very personal way.
“The government can make sure that the veterans and their families get the medicines that they need. The communities can do a lot to support veterans and their families. We can give them food. We can donate many things. We can give them money and we can give them clothes. We can… find them doctors. We can show our veterans that we appreciate them. We can give them cards. We can pray for them. We can visit them. We can drive them to places. We can cook dinner for them… they do a lot for us.”
In the second category of Sixth Graders, Sofya Recupero from Divine Redeemer School won first place with this essay that she read before the crowd:
“How do we keep Lincoln’s promise to our veterans and their families? Abraham Lincoln’s promise is being kept every day now. It’s a good way for all of us to work together. To be honest, the world is not in the best shape right now. It needs a lot of help. That is why we are here. Just remember that every person matters. First, I would like to talk about the military. They protect our country every day and they don’t get to see their families. When I think about the military, I think of bravery and compassion. The American flag symbolizes those things too. We put up the American flag every day to honor our country. I think that sticking together through everything even though we have our differences is one of the best things we can do. What would God think of all these horrible things going on in the world? People aren’t treating each other equally because of race, judgments, or religions they have. Freedom is a small word but has a huge meaning behind it. Freedom of religion is the freedom to believe in whatever you want. Freedom of speech is the freedom to talk about whatever you want. Freedom of education is the freedom to be able to go to school. These are just a few of the many freedoms we have. I don’t know how our lives would be without our freedoms. There are lots of ways that people are keeping Lincoln’s promise. For instance, people that are in the military are fighting for me, and they don’t even know me or my family. Doctors who work in hospitals are helping people by making sure everything is alright with their health. Teachers help kids with their education. Everywhere people are keeping Lincoln’s promise. All of these things help us become better Americans.”
The Sixth Grade Second Place Winner Chase Luketic and Third Place Winner Richard Nic George were not in attendance. Both boys also attend Divine Redeemer School in Ford City.
The Keynote Speaker for the event was Harold French. He is the Adjutant for Post 325 in addition to having the distinction of being the 2016 Armstrong County Veteran of the Year. French reminded the audience that the freedom to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday came with a price.
“This is why we – the many – gather here to honor of veterans – the few who were so willing to give of themselves to defend their brothers and their sisters and their country. Memorial Day is just about celebrating veterans. It honoring those who gave their lives.”
French’s speaking engagements this weekend also included the Keynote Address for the ceremony held at Kittanning Riverfront Park on yesterday morning.
The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute and Taps were sounded. A light luncheon was served after the ceremony.
Listen to the speech below that inspired this year’s essay writers: