Local students named winners of BACC RWB Patriotism Essay Competition

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The Bullard Area Chamber of Commerce recently announced the winners of the organization’s 2017 annual patriotic scholarship essay competition.  

The BACC Red, White, and Blue Patriotism Essay Competition application process began in the month of October.  The purpose of the competition is to “honor American veterans and the sacrifices they have made to ensure freedom.” 

“We are honored to have the opportunity to point graduating seniors toward the importance of patriotism and the effect it has on their lives,” said Peggy Jones, BACC marketing and Membership Director. “This essay contest gives seniors the chance to truly reflect on the value of our veterans, the rights and privileges we each enjoy day after day, and the cost it requires to preserve those rights.” 

This year, the BACC Red, White, and Blue Patriotism Essay Competition was open to seniors at both Bullard High School and The Brook Hill School. 

“The patriotism essays were scored by a blind grading process conducted by a total of four local veterans and community members,” said Jones. “The scoring was based upon a four-part rubric; scores were dependent upon the articulation and depth of patriotic thought, as well as presentation, spelling and grammar, and community service.  Additional credit was given to seniors who had served in a community service aspect which impacted veterans.” 

According to Jones, the winner for the 2017 The BACC Red, White, and Blue Patriotism Essay Competition was BHS senior Molli Majors for her essay entitled, The Sacrifice of a Patriot. 

In addition to Majors, two other essays were chosen by the BACC Essay Committee as first and second place runners-up. BH senior Maddie Anthony was selected as the first place runner-up winner with her essay entitled, Patriotism, while BHS senior Cora Pudwill was chosen as the second place runner-up winner for her essay entitled, A True Patriot. 

“BACC is extremely proud to have the opportunity to recognize graduating seniors that serve their community and understand the importance of patriotism and its role in what makes America great,” said Jones. “Many of the essays submitted this year were strong candidates; however, these three winners stood out due to their personal understanding and the manner in which they showed how patriotism applied to their lives. It was a close competition this year, with the winners being separated by just a few points in the essay’s scoring. These seniors were able to express the depth and importance of patriotism as well as show the relevance of it to the younger generation.”

As the winner of the BACC Red, White, and Blue Patriotism Essay Competition, Majors will have the opportunity to read her essay at the upcoming BACC Red, White, and Blue Festival, to be held Saturday, Nov. 4, in downtown Bullard. 

For their award-winning essays, each of the three winners will be presented with a college scholarship from BACC. Majors will receive a $1,000 scholarship, while Anthony and Pudwill will both receive a $500 scholarship.

Jones said a total of 30 essays were submitted for the annual BACC Patriotism Essay contest, the highest amount received by the organization since its inception. She also wished to thank all the participants for their submissions and luck in their future endeavors.

Red, White & Blue Essay contest winners
“The Sacrifice of a Patriot”
By Molli Majors
Bullard High School
I closed my eyes and asked myself, what does a patriot look like? It is easy to first imagine classic images of our forefathers, but I soon realized that I am surrounded daily by patriots that have sacrificed deeply for me and our great nation. Patriots come in many forms, from the front line soldiers to family members who hold it all together at home awaiting safe return of their loved ones. These are true patriots.
My grandfather served during World War II with the Naval SeaBees on the Island of New Caledonia. Every conversation that arises seems to find its way to that South Pacific island. He never leaves home without sporting his ball cap that proudly displays his naval heritage. His memories of this time spent are so vivid he can take me there just in his descriptions. There is always a slight quiver in his voice and a tear in his eye as he recollects those proud moments of his life. 
While watching the evening news, a story of a beautiful little girl opening her third birthday gift quickly caught my attention. She opened her gift to reveal a stuffed bear wearing camo. “It’s just like daddy!”, she cries out. Her father is serving our country in the Middle East and could not share this special day in person. But to her surprise, mom had recorded her dad’s voice telling her a happy birthday message and now this bear really had become her daddy for this special day. She exploded with excitement and her eyes lit up as she hugged her daddy bear very tightly. This is just one example of how the families of our veterans are also true patriots.
This week I learned of a young soldier just 20 years old that was brought home to East Texas and laid to rest. His convoy encountered a roadside bomb as they traveled through Afghanistan. The picture of this soldier displayed someone so proud to wear the uniform he had on. The rice for my freedom had never before been so clear.
Patriotism has many faces. It is not only made up of honor and courage, but also the sacrifices that are given to make this great nation what it is today. From veterans of past wars, families absent of loved ones, to the men and women who lost their lives for our country all show patriotism in its truest form.

“Patriotism”
By Maddie Anthony
The Brook Hill School

As citizens of the United States of America, many times we forget the daily freedoms we have and how so many are sacrificing every day to provide our blanket of freedom. Our current military men and women, along with the thousands of veterans, POWs, and the fallen, show the ultimate patriotism with their lifetime dedication to our country. So, I ask us all, are we patriots? Do we show patriotism/ If so, how other? How do we show it? As I contemplate these questions, I can’t help but realize that many of us as Americans only show true patriotism three times a year.
The first time – Memorial Day – is our humble recognition of those fallen heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They embody patriotism better than any human can and truly deserve to be recognized every day in our lives, as we enjoy all the benefits and opportunities this country has to offer due to their dedication and unquestionable commitment.
The second time we typically show patriotism is Independence Day, our celebration of the official signing and adoption of our Declaration of Independence. This day we recognize our country standing on its own and the beginning of our way of life, including adopting the premise of freedom and defending it. 
The third time we put on our patriotic colors is Veterans Day, our celebration of the ending of World War I in 1918. On this day, our veterans are honored and thanked for their service and continued representation of what it means to serve for a greater good, namely our country, than self.
As I continue to think about this topic and the questions posed earlier, I can’t help but realize that in this fast-paced, instant gratification world we live in, perhaps the common body of Americans truly do fall into the category of “part-time” patriots. Why do we settle for only showing patriotism these three days out of the year by buying fireworks, having lake days, and cooking out? Why do we not use all the social media opportunities out there to show our patriotism through a “post,” “tweet,” or “chat”? Or, at minimum, during our prayers? 
I challenge us as the future generation of this great country to buck the status quo as it relates to patriotism. Let’s commit to being “full-time” patriots by giving thanks, be recognizing and celebrating our true heroes at least once a week. Can you imagine the impact it would have on our country? Our world? 
As our great President Ronald Reagan said, “Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.”  With increased patriotism, perhaps we can enhance this weapon to make serving in our military a more heroic career in the eyes of our youth.
“ A True Patriot” 
By Cora Pudwill
Bullard High School
Merriam Webster’s definition of patriotism is as follows; “Love for or devotion to one’s country.” I have been fortunate enough to grow up knowing a true American hero. The way he has exemplified patriotism and bravery throughout both his military career and retirement is truly inspiring. Witnessing his character and love of his country, has made me want to become a better American citizen. His life is a shining example of what it means to honor and sacrifice for our country.
Robert Collins enlisted in the army in 1983 and throughout his career has traveled or lived in several places including Texas, Colorado and Germany to name a few. In 1991, he trained and became a prestigious Green Beret. This position caused him to embark on numerous special operations missions. These missions carried to him to perilous destinations such as Panama, Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. In total, Robert has served seven and a half years in combat zones and twenty four years in our country’s military. In 2005, while on special forces operation East of Baghdad, Robert’s team was ambushed. He was shot multiple places in the chest and leg, sustained shrapnel injuries, and suffered a brain injury that caused hearing loss from a nearby hand grenade. This injury forced him to return home and end his military career. During his service, he received numerous awards such as the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.
After sustaining his injuries and returning home, Robert faced many challenges. Not only did he suffer physical injuries, but he also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He found it difficult to reintegrate into society and into his family life. He describes these changes as “life altering.” His journey to recovery was very extensive. Through the support of his wife and two daughters, and through any years of counseling, Robert reentered society as a civilian. It was then, in my opinion, that he exhibited his greatest example of patriotism. He founded the Wounded Warriors Association in 2009. This organization’s purpose is to provide camaraderie and support to Purple Heart veterans who were wounded in combat. Through his organization, Robert has taken veterans on fishing and hunting trips to places such as South Dakota and Alaska. These trips provide veterans with the opportunities to spend time with other wounded veterans and find support within each other’s experiences. Robert also saw a need to include families in this healing process. This support encompasses the wives and families of the wounded warriors as well.
It is Robert’s story that has enabled me to know what true patriotism looks like. His devotion to our country and the sacrifices he has made lead me to feel extremely blessed to live in this great country of ours. I appreciate each veteran who has, or is currently serving our country. We should all aspire to share in their patriotism. 

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