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‘Thank you and God bless you for your unimaginable courage’: Veterans Day essay winner

Photo courtesy of Kezia Dickson

One Corona student has stood out from the rest for an essay that came from the heart.

Kezia Dickson, an eighth-grader at I.S. 61, won the inaugural Veterans Day essay competition for students in New York’s 14th Congressional District.

Dickson was recognized on Nov. 5 by U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley for placing first with her 500-word essay out of more than 800 students who participated in the competition. The contest was open to students in grades five through eight. The top essays from each grade were also given congressional recognition.

“Our Veterans Day essay contest was a wonderful opportunity to encourage our youth to reflect upon our nation’s history and salute the members of our armed forces for all their sacrifices,” Crowley said. “Kezia’s essay perfectly captures what it means to commemorate the holiday and underscores the importance of paying tribute to the men and women who protect the freedoms we’ve fought so hard for. “

Dickson, who hopes to one day work in politics, said that when she was writing the article, she wasn’t thinking about winning the contest, but about her uncles and cousins in the armed forces.

“First, I thought it was a joke because when I first wrote the essay I wasn’t doing it for the contest. Veterans Day is something that is really important to me. When I wrote it, that was right from the heart,” she said. “It really meant a lot because I know a lot of people don’t know what Veterans Day is so when I saw that someone took what I wrote to heart and took it seriously it made me feel like I was saying something that really meant a lot.”

The congressman awarded Dickson with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and also presented her with a statement that will be entered into the Congressional Record in honor of her essay.

Veterans Day to Me
By Kezia Dickson

Each day millions of people in the armed forces risk their lives in order to protect us. They put losing their family, friends, and life behind just so that they can protect us. These people show unexplainable bravery and courage. I can’t even imagine putting my life on the line to fight in a war where I may possibly die. When I sit down and think about what these people are doing it blows my mind. I find it so honorable and breath-taking that someone would put themselves in such danger for strangers. That is why when Veterans Day comes along I make sure to do something for those members of the armed forces. This holiday is just a chance for me to say, “Thank you and God bless you for your unimaginable courage and kindness.” I can’t even go on to think about the struggle and pain some of these family members may feel each day as they don’t know if their husband or wife, son or daughter, mother or father is still alive. Just let alone going to sleep without having that type of awareness is hard. Sometimes us Americans take things for granted, especially, our freedom. Most people fail to understand that the freedom we have doesn’t come for free. Sacrifices are made and people end up dying in the process. Veterans Day is very important to me. For some it’s a day where you don’t have to go to work or school. For me it’s a time of reflection and renewal. To know that somebody’s husband/wife, son/daughter, father/mother is dying just so, that I can have my freedom makes me take a step back. It makes me think twice about the actions I’m taking and the things I’m doing right now. I just begin to say to myself, “Is the things I’m doing now worth someone’s life being lost?” I appreciate these members of the armed forces with the deepest gratitude. They’ve helped save my life and protect other millions of Americans. In my family, I have uncles and cousins who have served and are serving now. I understand what they do is very hard and it takes mental, emotional, and physical strength to go through with it. They go through so many obstacles but, they seem to never give up. They make me proud to call myself an American. It is their bravery and audacity that keeps America living. What they do is just unbelievable. Basically, Veterans Day my time to say, “Thank you for saving my life and thank you for your service.”                  

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