Patriot's Pen essay by Steamboat student earns statewide honors |

Patriot’s Pen essay by Steamboat student earns statewide honors

Staff report

Steamboat Springs VFW Post Commander Rick Reinhard presents Merritt Flanigan with a plaque for placing first in the Patriot’s Pen essay contest at the district level. Merritt went on to win fifth place in the statewide essay contest, which is sponsored annually by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (Courtesy photo)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs sixth-grader Merritt Flanigan placed fifth in the statewide Patriot’s Pen contest, which is a VFW-sponsored youth essay contest conducted nationally each year.

Students in sixth through eighth grades are invited to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “Why I Honor the American Flag.”

Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher Pam Karzen has her sixth grade students participate in the contest, and each year the local VFW picks the top essay and forwards this essay on to a district contest. Merritt won that contest and then was entered in the state contest, where she placed fifth. This is the first time a Steamboat student has placed in the state-level contest.

Merritt received a certificate of achievement signed by the VFW Department Commander Steve Kjonaas and a check for $100. Her essay is reprinted below.

Why I honor the American Flag

I honor the American flag as a promise to my country. I honor it for all the wonderful things that the flag symbolizes. For all the people who have served our country and made it an amazing place. For the people who have risked and given their lives to help everyone living in this country. I am so grateful for this amazing place that people have risked their lives to create.

I do the Pledge of Allegiance as my way of honoring the flag. Every time I do the Pledge of Allegiance it is a promise to my country. A promise that I will respect all the laws and rules protecting our country, and that I will be a loyal and trustworthy citizen.

As Nelson Rockefeller said, “America is not just a power, it is a promise, it is not enough for our country to be extraordinary in might; it must be exemplary in meaning.” Our flag does not just symbolize power, it also symbolizes meaning. Whether the meaning is making sure everyone is treated equally regardless of race, gender or religion or making sure everybody is safe, there is a promise that every American citizen must follow.

Of the many reasons to honor the American flag, the ideas the flag symbolizes stands out to me. As Ronald Reagan stated, “When we honor our flag we honor what we stand for as a nation — freedom, equality, justice and hope.” As a nation, we have rules that we stand by that help us create the place we call home. The flag symbolizes the ideas that we want our country to portray and the ideas that help shape our society.

The people who have fought for our country have given the flag meaning. Many people have risked or given their lives to help protect our country and shape what we stand for. I honor the flag for all the people who have put others first and fought despite the danger. Without these brave souls, our country would not be the same.

I honor the flag as a promise to my country, for everything that it symbolizes, and for all the people who have risked their lives to create this place we call home. When I look at the flat, I don’t see stars and stripes, I see a promise for the future.

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