A Brandon Valley Intermediate School fifth-grader’s thoughts on promoting Americanism in her school and community won top honors in a local contest.
Sarah VanDeBerg’s essay, “What can I personally do to promote Americanism in my school or community?,” was selected as the winner by the Brandon American Legion Auxiliary. VanDeBerg’s essay now moves on to the national competition in April 2018. She is the daughter of Paul and Tammy VanDeBerg, of Brandon.
Emma Kramer took second place in the 2018 Americanism Essay Contest and Zariah Sittig was third.
VanDeBerg’s winning essay is printed below:
“What can I do personally to promoteAmericanism in my school or community?”
I think that promoting Americanism in my school and community is important. I think that it is important because I think that our freedom, choice of religion, and the way we are treated is important. These are some ways that I like to promote Americanism.
I like to help our community by picking up garbage on our street, or painting garbage cans and donating them to local parks. At school, I try to treat everyone equally and kindly. I also believe that each person is unique and I respect them for that.
One of the biggest benefits America is known for is our freedom that our veterans fought for. I am thankful that people set aside days like Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day so that we can stop and really think about what they did for us. I have promoted our freedom by saying speeches at my school, and thanking our veterans. It helps me personally because my grandpa had served in the Vietnam War. That is how I personally promote America’s freedoms.
One of the things I enjoy about Americanism is that we get to choose our religion. I promote that by respecting people’s choices, and not taking our choice of religion for granted. Our country lets us choose our own way to do things a lot of the time, and that is why our country is so great We have many awesome and amazing reasons why America is so great. That is why I think it is important to promote Americanism, and that is how I promote Americanism in my school and community.
Americanism Essay Contest Winners
"What the Pledge of Allegiance Means to Me" - Division I Winner
This year's winning essay from Division I (5th/6th graders) is from Beatriz Gabriel of Worthington Lodge #2287.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. What does it really mean?
"I pledge allegiance", really stands for I promise to be true. "To the flag", stands for the symbol of our country. "Of the United States of America", stands for a country where people choose others to make laws for them. "For which it stands" stands for the flag that means our country. "Under God" the people believe in a supreme being. "Indivisible" stands for our country that cannot be split into parts. "With liberty and justice" means with freedom and fairness. "For all" stands for each person in the country.
To me the pledge of allegiance stands for "I pledge to be true to the symbol of our country, and for each state that has joined our country, where people choose to make laws for them, and for the flag that means our country, for the people that believe in a supreme being, and for our country that cannot be split with freedom and fairness for each person in the country."
The Pledge of allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. It was published in the juvenile magazine, "The Youths Campaign." That is what the Pledge of Allegiance means to me.
This year's winning essay from Division II (7th/8th graders) is from Hailey Turner-Hubbard of Brainerd Lodge #615.
When I put my hand on my heart, look up at the flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I'm reminded of the respect and love I have towards my country. I think of the soldiers that have sacrificed everything, including their lives, so that citizens of America are able to live freely. There are two things in the Pledge of Allegiance that really stand out to me.
The Pledge states that we are "one nation, under God." I believe this means that we have the right to believe in whomever and whatever we please. Without soldiers fighting for us, there is a chance I wouldn't have that liberty. This also reminds me that our nation was founded on religion. I believe this goes towards many religions, not just Christianity. It tells me that our country comes from many different religious backgrounds, but we're still one united nation.
I think the pledge is also a promise. It's my promise that I'll be loyal to my country and the values it was founded on. I'm also promising to honor my country and the soldiers that have fought for it. To show my loyalty I can participate in governmental things such as voting. I'm too young for that, so for now I can study our nations history. Our nation wouldn't be what it is today if we didn't keep this promise.
By saying the Pledge of Allegiance, I'm reminded of my love and respect towards my home. The United States of America.
"What Veterans Day Means to Me" - Division I winner
This year's winning essay for Division I (5th/6th) is from Kristen T. of Mankato Lodge #225.
When I think of Veterans Day, I think of all the servicemen and women that risked their lives so that us Americans could have freedom. It takes a true serviceman to do something that amazing! I have many veterans in my family tree, my grandpas, my father, was named Marine of the year, then I have two brothers, one currently in the Marines, and one that just finished his four years. I am so proud of my family, and for all the Veterans out there that have made this world a wonderful and safe place to live.
Freedom has a price, and everyone deserves to pay it, but because of these servicemen and women, they paid it for us. Veterans day is a day to honor and remember these Veterans for the great sacrifices that they have made for us. Military families sometimes miss Holidays and special occasions together.
It doesn't take a big man or woman to do big things, because big or small, you can always do big things. I always keep all veterans that have served, or still serving right now in my prayers. Being a veteran is a big responsibility, and they should be good role models for everyone. It is my hope that kids in the world look up to veterans and give them the respect they deserve. It is also my hope that everyone remembers Veterans day and cherishes the thought of our brave heroes.
"What Veterans Day Means to Me" - Division II winner
This year's winning essay for Division II (7th/8th grade) is from Cayanne K. of Red Wing Lodge #845.
Veterans Day...for some it might just simply mean getting off school or work, sleeping in, maybe a nice barbecue with friends and family, and at one point that’s all it. ever meant.
I've only thought about what others wanted me to think about Veterans Day. I have learned from a young age that this federal holiday is meant to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, but before writing this essay I never really put much thought into how I felt about such an important day. To be honest, I don't think to pray for all of the U.S. military veterans every single day. I’m not thankful enough for these courageous people. So the question, What does Veterans day mean to me? ... there is no right or wrong answer, but for me Veterans Day is all about apologizing for not thanking those who deserve it most and making it up by dedicating November 11 each year to men and women who have put our lives in front of theirs not even knowing who we are. I am proud to say that lately I have been putting all veterans, not just my relatives and close friends, in my thoughts and prayers more often. All of these Americans have made such a difference in all of our lives. I now know I will look at Veterans Day with more respect, and I'm sorry it wasn't so important to me!
Winning Essays: 2013 Americanism Essay Contest
"What the National Anthem Means to Me" - Division I winner
This year's winning essay for Division I (5th/6th) is from Riley B. of Bemidji Lodge #1052.
The National Anthem is played at almost every sports event, you might hear it on Independence Day, and it is part of every day life for most patriotic Americans. The song is so common yet rarely will people take the time to consider what it means. To me the National Anthem symbolizes bravery. I recognize bravery because the song was made in the chaos of a battle. The closing verse strongly recognizes my feelings for this song. But I do not just recognize the soldiers in Fort McHenry, or even the soldiers fighting in the war of 1812. I also recognize all the brave men and women that have fought to keep our country safe for over 236 years. Each war posed new challenges and threats that took bravery to overcome. The National Anthem makes me feel grateful for being lucky enough to live in such a great country with people that are willing to give their lives just so you and I can live a good life. Because of these reasons I will feel proud the next time I hear the Star Spangled Banner played at a sporting event or any other event. I will also remember how brave our country has been to get where we are today, and how lucky I am to live in it. I hope you will too.
"What the National Anthem Means to Me" - Division II winner
This year's winning essay for Division II (7th/8th grade) is from Dax M. of Bemidji Lodge #1052.
The National Anthem is one of the most important parts of America's history. It was written by Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and a poet. He wrote it while witnessing Fort McHenry being attacked. This poem was written in 1814 during the war of 1812. The poem was later turned into a song with the tune of a popular song in America, "The Anacreontic Song". In 1916, Woodrow Wilson, the president, made the Star Spangled Banner the national anthem, as many people call it today in America. What does the National Anthem mean to me? It shows our freedom. It shows what our country went through to achieve freedom. It shows that all the lives that were taken for our country. It shows that even when there were bodies lying around the soldiers and they were scared and thought they would never see their families again, they still fought, they were courageous. They had hope in the midst of darkness. Whenever you hear the National Anthem, you shouldn't just sing it like it's a chore, you should think of the words you are singing, and think about what your ancestors went through so their children and grandchildren would be safe and live happy, prosperous lives. A quote from Nathan Hale before he was killed said, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." That is how all of us should think about our country, we should be willing to give our lives for God, and the United States of America.
Winning Essays: 2012 Americanism Essay Contest
"Why I Am Proud To Pledge Allegiance To Our Flag" - Division I winner
This year's winning essay for Division I (5th/6th) is from sixth grader Laura W. of Brainerd Lodge #615.
Every morning, we recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Most of us don't really pay attention to what those 31 words we know by heart mean, but they mean more than most most other words we use during the school day. Those 31 words signify what it means to be an American, and I'm proud to recite it every morning.
First of all, the Pledge of Allegiance unites all Americans together. Every one from Alaska to Florida, from Texas to Minnesota, is held together by the one thing we recite every morning. The Pledge of Allegiance holds Americans together.
Secondly, the Pledge of Allegiance reminds all of us about the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, and those who have fought in wars before to ensure our nation's freedom. In America we're allowed the freedom to pursue "life, liberty and happiness", unlike in some countries of the world. The troops fighting for us ensure we will keep that freedom.
And lastly, I'm proud to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it's reminding people of the freedom that everyone gets no matter their race, religion, gender, creed or anything else. The Pledge of Allegiance keeps the diversity in America alive.
In conclusion, I'm proud to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it holds all Americans together, it reminds us about the troops who have fought for our country, and it reminds of of our freedom and diversity in America.
"Why I Am Proud To Pledge Allegiance To Our Flag" - Division II winner
This year's winning essay for Division II (7th/8th grade) is from eighth grader Brock D. of Thief River Falls Lodge #1308.
Our Flag is a national symbol that represents not only our pride as Americans, but also our freedom and liberty earned by our own sweat, toil, and blood.
The words of the pledge are an outline of our commitment to the flag; telling us why it represents us, and we represent it. While it compels us to commit to our nation, it also tells us we are unified with our countrymen in common rights. This flag shows our unity in every city and town. It surrounds memorials and national monuments. It constantly receives standing ovations from crowds attending sports games, military events, parades, and every day events such as boy scouts, city council meetings, and even the Elks Flag Day Ceremony. No matter the event, it is honored greatly because of its promise that we are "one Nation, under God". Our flag prompts integrity and determination dating back to the Revolutionary War where it was used to motivate our soldiers to become one sovereign and independent nation. Ever since America's independence, it has been a solemn reminder of our common bond, too, whether covering a casket of a lost soldier or waving majestically over our Capitol. It reminds us of our history in every American classroom. It units our past, present and future.
United we stand.
Our flag is the basis of our country's unity. That is why I am proud to pledge allegiance to our flag.