Local VFW Names Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen Winners

- 12/19/2019

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Contact: Christine West

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Local VFW Names Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen Winners


Gilroy, CA (Dec. 17, 2019) – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6309 recently announced winners of its local student patriotic essay competition, "What Makes America Great.” 

Danielle Russell, a junior at Christopher High School, won the high school division for "Voice of Democracy: What Makes America Great.” She wrote "the strength and promise of the American Spirit, an indescribable dream of hope,” and this undying spirit blossomed and grew throughout American history. 

Jaden Morgan, a senior at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, placed second in the high school division. 

Paige De Rosa, a seventh grader at Brownell Middle School, won the middle school division for "Patriot’s Pen: What Makes America Great.” In her essay she wrote, "Whenever we pledge allegiance to the flag, we pledge to the people who helped create this country, the people who risked their lives for it and the honor we bring to our home.”

Second place was Jacob Puentes, a sixth grader also at Brownell Middle School, placed second in the middle school division. 

"These students are truly patriotic,” said Alfred Alciati, VFW Commander. "Their essays were well written and well deserving of the award.”

The Voice of Democracy and the Patriot’s Pen essay competitions, conducted nationwide, are part of a VFW-sponsored youth program that gives students an opportunity to write 300-400-word essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. 

"Despite being young, all of these students really expressed themselves well on topics that many adults take for granted,” said John Ceballos, VFW essay committee chair. "I’d predict that these young people will be leaders for their generation.”

Gilroy’s VFW Post 6309 presented the winners each with $150 and the VFW Auxiliary added another $100. Second place finishers $100 from the VFW for the local competition. Their winning essays will now move on to the VFW District level and have the potential to advance to the state and national levels. National awards total $30,000 with the winner receiving $5,000.    

Founded in Gilroy in 1946, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6309 is a patriotic veterans’ organization that fosters camaraderie among veterans of overseas conflicts. Its mission is to serve the veterans and the community and to advocate on behalf of all veterans. Worldwide there are more than 2 million VFW members. In Gilroy, there are nearly 300 members. 

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