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Local youth wins veterans essay competition

A Thomson Middle School student recently was announced as a winner of the local, district and state Patriot's Pen Competition. Seventh grader Tyler Shelton was selected as the first place winner by the Thomson Veteran's of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary Post #6672 and the District 10 VFW for the essay contest. He placed third on the state level.

"I was surprised, I thought it couldn't be me (that was a winner)," Tyler said.

Conducted annually nationwide, the essay competition gives students the opportunity to express their views on democracy. In his essay, Tyler described the sacrifices veterans have to make and expressed gratefulness for their willingness to do so. He also suggested ways to honor veterans, such as treating them with dignity and respect, sending them cards or notes, visiting them or helping them with chores.

"I can't think of a more appropriate student to achieve this than Tyler," Principal Claude Powell said. "Because he has fought some real, real tough battles himself."

Tyler has been battling a brain tumor and numerous surgeries since the diagnosis when he was in elementary school. In an interview with The McDuffie Mirror, Tyler said he'd like to be in the Army when he grows up, but knows that his health situation will prevent that. He emphatically said he'll be a Crime Scene Investigator agent, instead. And according to his teacher, that won't be a problem.

"All the kudos should go to him for winning the essay contest," language arts teacher Jennifer Coleman said. "He follows every bit of the directions."

Tyler will receive cash awards from the local, district and state VFWs during a District 10 meeting on Feb. 1.


Why should veterans be honored?

By Tyler Shelton

Can you imagine going to work everyday not knowing if you will ever make it home? Not knowing when or if you will ever see your family, friends and home again? How would you feel to know that you might be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving up your life to ensure that your friends and family can live a free and secure life? Can you imagine how scary this would be?

History has shown that America's Veterans have done just that. They were ready at a moment's notice to fight to keep our country free. America's Veterans have put their life on the line to provide a secure place to live and raise families for all Americans and many other countries around the world. Their numerous sacrifices ensure that we all have the opportunity to live a protected, free life. Veterans didn't make these sacrifices for the money, the glory or the honor. The bottom line is they make these sacrifices for me and for you.

There are literally thousands of memorials honoring America's Veterans of War in this country. We have the holidays, Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day honors Veterans who died in war, while Veterans Day honors all American Veterans, both living and dead. These holidays provide many opportunities to honor Veterans with awards, ceremonies and parades.

I think these holidays are great ways to honor Veterans, but two days out of the year don't really seem to me to be enough to ensure that Veterans know how deeply we appreciate the sacrifices they have made to keep our country free. I think one of the best ways to honor an American War Veteran is to treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve. We should take care of our Veterans and their families. We should volunteer to help out in any way we can, whether it is sending a card or note to a Veteran in the hospital, helping older Veterans with chores around their house, or just visiting them in the local nursing home. It is our turn to give a little back to them for all they have given to us.

So, the next time you see a Veteran, take the time to tell them "Thank you. Thank you for putting you r life on the line for me, my family, my country and my world."

Web posted on Thursday, January 29, 2009

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