Patriotic message takes Christian Life student a long wayChristian Life School seventh grader Abby Haenni has no doubt patriotism is alive and well in the United States. She’s even written a pretty convincing essay stating as much.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Christian Life School seventh grader Abby Haenni has no doubt patriotism is alive and well in the United States. She’s even written a pretty convincing essay stating as much.
That essay of hers was so compelling, she convinced three judges in Farmington as well as judges for the Second District of the Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Affairs Patriot’s Pen.
A couple of weekends ago, Haenni was chosen to represent the Second District in the state Patriot’s Pen contest. She will compete against eight other students from around the state, and if her essay is selected, Haenni could advance to national competition.
Each year the Patriot’s Pen essay contest invites middle school-aged students to write an essay on a subject selected by the VFW at a national level.
This year, the VFW asked for essays from Boeckman Middle School, Dodge Middle School and Christian Life School. At CLS, all students were required to write an essay and participate in the contest.
But for Haenni, the requirement wasn’t a big deal. An avid writer and reader in her spare time, she’s very well spoken and has a fairly advanced vocabulary (not to mention, she’s been a winner in more than one of the school’s annual spelling bees). The topic, “Does patriotism still matter today?” was one she could really relate to in her own life. Her grandfather and great grandfather both served in the military, so in her mind, the question was simple: of course it does.
“My family is very patriotic,” she said. “I just kind of grew up in a patriotic environment.”
The rules require students to write 300 to 400 words on the subject, and the subject is the same at every VFW Post across the United States. That way, student essays can be judged fairly, weighed against each other. Knowing this, Haenni took some time to figure out what she wanted to say, and she drew on a little help from her mom, April. It was Mom who encouraged her to refer to her own family and her own experiences when she wrote the essay.
Her essay is long gone, already passed along to the state competition. In fact, she hasn’t seen her essay since she won the Farmington VFW Post 7662 contest last fall. Because she won locally, she was invited to attend the Second District competition. There, hers was one of four essays under consideration. When the places were awarded – fourth, third, then second — her name wasn’t mentioned. She didn’t hear it until they read off the first place award.
Because she had the winning essay, she had to read it aloud. Then it was collected and sent along to state. Should she place first at the state level, she’ll read it again, but there’s no opportunity to touch up anything between now and then.
That’s probably okay, though. Her point was simple, and it has seemed to sit well with all the judges so far. After she defined what patriotism meant to her, she took it a few steps further.
From her memory, Haenni quotes her essay:
“Patriotism is a lifestyle. It’s not just a fad, here today, gone tomorrow…. It brought our freedom, it’s going to sustain our freedom.”