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VFW honors Patriot Pen winners

Students wrote essays on veterans

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Mya Zdrazil, center, a seventh-grader at Community Christian School in Fort Dodge, was awarded the third place prize in the Patriots Pen competition conducted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1856. The award was presented Wednesday evening by Roger Simonson, left, who coordinates the competition for the local VFW post, and Mary Lou Kirby, president of the post’s auxiliary.

When Elijah Lawrence sat down to write an essay about veterans, he was inspired by relatives who served in the military, including one who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mya Zdrazil was motivated by her respect for everything veterans have done for her country when she wrote her essay.

The two Community Christian School students were among the winners of the annual Patriots Pen contest conducted by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1856 in Fort Dodge.

The first, second and third place prizes were announced Wednesday evening at the VFW post.

The first place award went to Kieler Smith, an eighth grader at Community Christian School. Because he was ill Wednesday, he was not present to receive the award from VFW leaders.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Elijah Lawrence, center, an eighth-grader at Community Christian School in Fort Dodge, won second place in the Patriots Pen essay competition held by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1856. He accepted the award Wednesday evening from Roger Simonson, left, who coordinates the competition for the local VFW post, and Mary Lou Kirby, the president of the post’s auxiliary.

He will receive a framed certificate and $100.

Roger Simonson, who coordinates the annual contest for the VFW, said Smith’s essay has been advanced to a district level competition that includes entries from 10 VFW posts.

Lawrence, also an eighth grader at Community Christian School, won second place. He received a framed certificate and $50.

Zdrazil, a seventh-grader at Community Christian School, won third place. She received a framed certificate and $25.

The students were challenged to write an essay entitled “My promise to veterans.”

“I just thought of my great-uncle,” Lawrence said.

His great uncle, George Bendick Jr., died while serving in the Army.

One of his great-grandfathers, Bill Lawrence, survived the Dec. 7. 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into World War II.

Another great-grandfather, George Bendick, also served in the military.

Zdrazil said “just thinking about what all the veterans did” helped her write her essay.

She said she worked on her essay over the course of two days.

The Patriots Pen competition, held every fall, is open to sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

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