Top entries recognized by Lansing VFW Post 5981 in local level of annual Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest; Top local essay is also District winner

Top placewinners in Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest ... Lansing VFW Post #5981 and its Auxiliary sponsored the local competition of the Patriot’s Pen youth essay competition for students in sixth through eighth grades. Pictured above are this year’s top three placewinners in the local competition won by eighth grader Marley Gramlich. Left to right: Braiden Hatlan, Third Place; Eli Schobert, Second Place; Marley Gramlich, First Place; and Dan Hanson, VFW Post 5981 Commander. Submitted photo.

Lansing VFW Post #5981 has announced that Marley Gramlich, an eighth grade student at Kee Middle School in Lansing, is the District 9 first-place winner of the VFW’s 2023-2024 Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. Gramlich, who was sponsored by Gustave F. Kerndt VFW Post #5981 and its Auxiliary in Lansing, wrote her winning essay based on this year’s theme, “How are you inspired by America?” Her winning essay is printed below with this article and photo.

Gramlich was slated to next compete at the Department level in an effort to advance to the National level of the contest to compete for individual awards ranging from $500 to $5,000. Kee Middle School students Eli Schobert and Braiden Hatlan also placed second and third, respectively, in the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest at the local Post level.

The 2023 Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest was sponsored by Gustave F Kerndt VFW Post 5981.  Each year, nearly 68,800 students in sixth through eighth grades enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest to express their views on a patriotic theme and for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards.

The VFW enacted the Patriot’s Pen youth essay competition in 1995 as a way to encourage young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society while improving their writing skills. The contest is a worldwide competition that gives students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades the opportunity to write a 300- to 400-word, theme-based essay expressing views on democracy while competing for worthwhile awards and prizes.

“How are you inspired by America?”
by Marley Gramlich, 8th Grade - Kee Middle School, Lansing
Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest First-Place Local and District 9 Winner

In recent years the world has changed drastically, but in America many basic human rights and laws have withheld the test of time. I have been inspired by America and the freedom this country represents. Some of these things include that every person is to be treated equally, we are free to have our own beliefs and make independent decisions, and the people that fight for this country.

“The anchor in our world today is freedom, holding us steady in times of change, a symbol of hope to all the world.” - George H.W. Bush.

To begin, possibly one of the most important and inspiring things about America is that, no matter race, sexual preference, religious beliefs, or how much money you have in your bank account, everyone is to be treated equally. In many countries, groups of people are discriminated against far more than in the U.S.A. Though America is not perfect, we are working towards equal rights for all communities every day. America is full of many different cultures and beliefs, this diverse population makes it even more vital to have equal rights and an inclusive society.

“Humanity has won its battle, Liberty is now a country.” - Marquis de Lafayette.

Secondly, we are allowed to make our own decisions and have separate beliefs from our government leader. For example, other countries have restrictions on what religions can be practiced, while other places have a designated state religion. In America, The First Amendment proclaims that “the country shall have no official religion,” and I find it inspiring that as an American citizen I can make important decisions about my life.

“Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live without a soul.” - John Adams.

Lastly, one of the most inspiring things about America in my opinion is the people that chose to fight for our freedom. Another privilege we have as Americans is the Right not to Enlist, which makes the people who choose to risk their lives for our country that much braver. People who choose to give their lives to save people like me, just some kid they’ve never met, are awe-inspiring and deserve all the respect they have and more.

“Better to die fighting than to be a prisoner all the days of your life.” - Bob Marley.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” - John F. Kennedy.

In conclusion, America has kept freedom and basic rights throughout many years and is still evolving today. This inspires countless people including myself in innumerable ways. Some of the most inspirational things about America are, people being treated equally, being able to make independent decisions, and the men and women who serve our country.

“Where liberty dwells, there lies my country.” - Benjamin Franklin