Vernon 7th Grader, First Place Winner in Statewide Contest Honoring Veterans

October 31, 2013
Amie Lee and Sen. Guglielmo in the Hall of The Flags at the State Capitol in Hartford.
Amie Lee and Sen. Guglielmo in the Hall of The Flags at the State Capitol in Hartford.

Hartford, CT – State Senator Tony Guglielmo (R-Stafford) congratulated Vernon Center Middle School 7th grader, Amie Lee for winning First Place in a statewide contest that asked students to write an essay addressing “Why Do We Honor Veterans?”

As the First Place winner, Amie will ride in a car in the Connecticut Veterans Parade on Sunday, November 3 at 12:30 p.m. in Hartford. In recognition of her achievement, she also will receive an American flag that has flown over the State Capitol Building.

“It is an honor to have an award winner in our district. Congratulations to Amie Lee for writing such a wonderful essay and paying tribute to some of the most courageous Americans in history,” said Sen. Guglielmo. “We should all be proud to honor her great grandfather, grandfather and all the veterans she pays tribute to in her essay.”

All three top winners were honored and read their winning essays at a special ceremony in the Connecticut State Capitol’s Hall of Flags on October 30 in Hartford. The 2013 Connecticut Veterans Parade essay contest is presented by The Navy League of the United States – Hartford Council and the State of Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.

Nearly 300 entries were received from students around the state. This special project was developed to encourage middle school students to learn more about the heroism and importance of American servicemen and women throughout our nation’s history. The annual contest is open to all Connecticut 6th, 7th and 8th graders. A panel of judges selected the 2013 winner and the runners-up.

The colorful 14th annual Connecticut Veterans Parade will honor the dedication and sacrifices of servicemen and women from all U.S. conflicts, and offers the state’s residents the opportunity to express their thanks in a meaningful way.

Here is Amie Lee’s winning essay.

“Why Do We Honor Veterans?”

There is a definition of a Veteran that has the best reason for why we should honor our Veterans. It says: “Whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – a veteran is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the ‘United States of America’, for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’” (Author unknown)

Veterans risk their lives for our country, for each of us, so that we can live freely, go to work, go to school, and have normal lives. When they take on that responsibility and go to war, they leave their families behind. They say good bye to their parents, spouses, and children. They worry about never coming back. They have to travel to, and live in, places that are unfamiliar and unfriendly. They might be hungry and cold, or really hot, but they still do their job. Veterans believe that doing their job is one of the most important things they can do.

My great-grandfather fought in World War I. He came home very ill. He fought in the trenches in Europe and he inhaled mustard gas and burned his lungs. This was the first time chemical warfare was used on soldiers. His health became very poor and he was sick a lot after he came home. He eventually died and left behind his wife and two little sons. Many Veterans come home with their health destroyed.

My grandfather was a Veteran of two wars, World War II and Korea. He was a sailor and enlisted when he was eighteen. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor was attacked. We have all his uniforms, and his duffel bag. He was a tall and skinny kid. His ship was in constant danger of being attacked so they kept moving the ship around to avoid being hit by bomber planes. One day, just after they had moved his ship to a different location, a kamikaze pilot came and bombed the ship that had replaced my grandfather’s ship. He felt very lucky to be alive, but very sad for the fellow sailors that got killed.

We honor people like my grandfather and great-grandfather because without people who are willing to fight for what is right, the world would be a terrible place. More leaders like Adolf Hitler would be in power. More people would suffer. Our Veterans fight, but they also help to rebuild towns, hospitals, and schools after war. They try to be good role models around the world.

Every year I march in the Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades with the Girl Scouts and the school band. I also place flags on the Veterans’ graves with the Boy Scouts with my dad’s troop. Most of those Veterans are from World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam. Last year, I helped make a flag display in front of our church with a flag for each Veteran that has died in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our family feels proud of the work that the Veterans in our family did to make our world a safer place. We feel grateful to the soldiers and sailors that are still fighting today. They really are writing a check to all of us with their lives as the payment.