High school 2023 winning VFW essays

Nov 15, 2023

Those who attended the post-Veterans Day Parade ceremony at Center Park may have heard Lexi Francis and Stoney Ferry read their winning VFW essays for the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests.

The two were chosen among their peers at Wareham High School and will have their entries judged on the state level. Winners of the Voice of Democracy contest on the state level will receive at least $1,000 in scholarship money and move on to the national competition where they can win a $35,000 scholarship. First-place winners of the Patriot’s Pen contest on the state level will receive at least $500 in scholarship money and $5,000 on the national level.

The prompt for this year’s Voice of Democracy contest was, “What are the greatest attributes of our democracy?”

Here is Ferry’s response:

When I think about human rights around the world, I feel thankful for the country in which I live. Though the United States is nowhere near perfect, we have more freedom than some people can even imagine. 

When I think about children’s rights to education around the world, I feel thankful that I have been able to get up every morning and go to school. Though the U.S. education system isn’t perfect, we have access to free education throughout the entire nation. As a Massachusetts resident, I have learned from the fifth best education system in the nation. Here in Massachusetts, compulsory education laws require children to attend school with a minimum age of 6 years old. We are entitled to a public education without charge. 

When I think about politics around the world, I feel thankful that when I turn 18, even as a woman of color, I will have the right to vote. Though the U.S. political system has flaws, as citizens, we have more influence in our country’s politics than foreign citizens may ever have. As a representative democracy, American citizens can elect politicians to represent our beliefs and voice our concerns within the government. Women’s suffrage in the U.S. was granted in 1920. From 1840-1920 there were petitions and protests around the country fighting for the 19th amendment. This goes to show that the first amendment is very important for making historical changes in our country. 

When I think about diversity around the world, I feel thankful that I know and love so many people from different backgrounds. Though in the U.S. there have been many racial injustices, I still get to attend school with various students of distinct ethnicities. Each year, over a million people immigrate to the U.S. This positively influences the diversity of American culture as shown in our range of food, music, religions, holidays, and more. In the 13th amendment, slavery was abolished, which drastically improved the lives of people of color and gradually helped Americans to take steps away from racism. 

This is all to say that though it is widely known that our country is not and has never been perfect, it was built on the basis of freedom. In some countries, there are many people who have little to no control over their lives. As an American, I have the freedom to push for change. It wouldn’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be impossible either. None of this would be attainable without the United States Constitution and representative democracy, flaws and all.”

The prompt for this year’s Patriot’s Pen contest was, “How are you inspired by America?”

Here is Francis’ response:

“I am inspired by America in many ways. America is my home and it is my safe place. The troopers of America’s army have inspired me because I want to be in the army. I have been doing JROTC for three years and I have learned in that time that America is a great place. I was raised in America and have realized that people have risked their lives for me, I want to pay it back. The people that have been raised and have grown up here have also been inspired by the people in America. There are many good people in this world and many good people in America. 

There are many people in the world that need saviors and America and its people were there for them, and I want to be one of the people that saves them and helps them. Even if it gets dangerous, it's worth it because at some point everyone is that person. America has a lot of good citizens and it inspires more and more people everyday. 

America has inspired me to be a good person. Whenever someone needs help I want to be there for them at their highs and lows. America has inspired me to do amazing things in my lifetime. I was inspired by the people of America and America itself at a very young age. America is what keeps the people of America themselves and the way they are. America has shaped the people in its borders.

America inspired not just me, but the people in it and they all have good in them. America makes us all come together even if we are all different. America's colors fly high and proud, that makes the people of America proud to be a part of this amazing world.”