Newark senior wins VFW essay contest
Newark High School senior Sami Chamberlain recently took first place in the “Why Celebrate Memorial Day?” essay competition sponsored by the Newark VFW Post 2883.
Economics and psychology teacher Mark Eakins, who leads the social studies department, said a group of teachers decided who won the cash prizes provided by the VFW.
“The students’ essays about Memorial Day always amaze me,’’ Eakins said. “They are personal and fitting tributes to those who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country.”
Chamberlain, who plans to study game development and design at Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall, learned he won the contest from his Participation in Government teacher Mark DeYoung. His dad, Eric, served in the Air Force and his aunt Karen Dyson Chamberlain is a retired three-star Army general.
“Most of my uncles are veterans, as was my grandfather,’’ he said.
Julie Kellogg won second place, followed by Emily Tang in third.
Chamberlain’s winning essay follows:
“As Harry S. Truman once masterfully said, ‘America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.’
“Memorial Day, to many in our world today, serves as an irresolute reminder of the men and women that bravely served our country to preserve the freedoms and liberties we are privileged to have today. This national holiday, even though regarded as a day off to many, must be preserved, as the patriotism and liberties that we share in present time were all gifted to us by the ones who bravely fought to ensure the safety of our country.
“Evolving from Decoration Day, which originated after the Civil War to commemorate the masses of soldiers who bravely fought and gave up their lives to protect their beliefs, Memorial Day is now celebrated every year on the last Monday of May to honor those who have fought to establish, maintain and protect our country, as well as the liberties that we cherish on a daily basis.
“To myself, Memorial Day serves as a day of triumph and hope for the future. Without the unceasing bravery of the men and women who have served on the battlefield throughout the history of the United States, much of what I cherish in my life would not be possible, and for preserving my rights as a United States citizen, I sincerely thank those who have fought and gave their lives to this righteous cause of liberty and freedom for all. Unfortunately, many have lost the sense of how important this holiday is to their standards of living, and recognize this day as simply a day off from school or work. To me, I cherish this day to remember and thank those brave souls who have gifted me a higher standard of life, as well as the freedom to live in the dignified country of the United States.
“To those who have lost the sense of importance of this national holiday, whether it be because nobody in your family had served in our armed forces or you haven’t been sufficiently taught of the importance of honoring our nation’s veterans, I pray for you and your mentors to have a change in heart and use this day to spread positivity to those who have lost somebody in consequence to maintaining our freedoms, as well as those who do not fully appreciate the importance of this monumental holiday.
“Even in this time of national emergency, Memorial Day should be a beacon and give a sense of hope to all — hope to persevere, hope for our loved ones and hope for the future. As those who bravely fought for our country gave us hope for the future, we can do the same for others if we internalize the ideals and morals that these heroic men and women were the standard bearers for as they maintained our freedom, and dignity for the future of the United States. I sincerely thank the righteous men and women who have fought for our freedom, as well as the ones who have aided them in the process, and to all, God bless America.”