October 23, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
57°F

Middle school essay contest winners named

Medina County Memorial Day Essay contest winners

This annual contest is co-sponsored by Wadsworth Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1089 and Medina County Auditor Mike Kovack, who served as a commander in the Navy.

The essays were judged on ability to express thought, clarity of writing, spelling, grammar and overall impact, according to the auditor’s website.

First-, second-, and third-place winners from each grade level received cash prizes.

Winners of the 2014 Medina County Memorial Day Essay contest, from left: Haleigh Saylor, Wadsworth Intermediate School, first place, sixth-grade competition; Anna Lanier, Highland Middle School, sixth place, sixth grade; Felicia Pasadyn, Brunswick’s Willetts Middle School, first place, seventh grade; Madelyn Huzyak, Wadsworth Middle School, third place, seventh grade; Grace Donnelly, Cloverleaf Middle School, second place, seventh grade; Sydney Minton, Wadsworth Middle School, second place, seventh grade; Richard Laurence, Cloverleaf Middle School, fourth place, sixth grade; Aaron Kornaker, Sacred Heart School, Wadsworth, sixth grade; Cara Buonocore, Cloverleaf Middle School, fifth place, sixth grade. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

Winners of the 2014 Medina County Memorial Day Essay contest, from left: Haleigh Saylor, Wadsworth Intermediate School, first place, sixth-grade competition; Anna Lanier, Highland Middle School, sixth place, sixth grade; Felicia Pasadyn, Brunswick’s Willetts Middle School, first place, seventh grade; Madelyn Huzyak, Wadsworth Middle School, third place, seventh grade; Grace Donnelly, Cloverleaf Middle School, second place, seventh grade; Sydney Minton, Wadsworth Middle School, second place, seventh grade; Richard Laurence, Cloverleaf Middle School, fourth place, sixth grade; Aaron Kornaker, Sacred Heart School, Wadsworth, sixth grade; Cara Buonocore, Cloverleaf Middle School, fifth place, sixth grade. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

Haleigh Saylor’s sixth-grade winning essay

“I chose to interview my 94-year-old great-grandfather, Jack Slinger, for this essay to honor Memorial Day. He served in the United States Army during World War II. He was drafted in 1944 when he was 24 years old. He conveyed to me that he was very sad to be leaving his lovely wife, Ruth, and 1½-year-old daughter, Judy, so he could go and serve his country. After basic training, he was selected to be stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, where he would train soldiers for infantry training. He would be responsible for these soldiers for 10 weeks, teaching them maneuvers and how to fire weapons (a rifle with a grenade adaptor at the end), and how to defend themselves against the enemy. He told me that he knew those “kids,” once trained, would be going off to Germany to fight at the Battle of the Bulge. He also told me, with tears in his eyes, that he knew most of those boys did not come back to their families or their country they were so proudly defending. During this interview, I was able to see that my Grandpa Jack sacrificed many things to be a soldier for our great country.

First, he sacrificed being with his wife and young daughter. He had only been married three years when he was drafted. He told me he knew it was an important job to be defending our country against Hitler and the Third Reich. He said he knew that going away from his family and serving his country was not the easiest thing, but he knew it was the best thing and, most of all, the right thing to do for our country and the people over in Europe being brutalized.

Secondly, my Grandpa Jack sacrificed his job by leaving it and serving at Camp Hood. His job was at Goodyear Aircraft training “Rosie the Riveters” (women learning how to build bombers and fighters). He mentioned he enjoyed that job and took pride in building the planes for the U. S. Air Force. Once my grandpa was discharged from the Army, his job was eliminated at Goodyear because there was no more need for those kinds of aircraft since the war was over.

Third, my grandpa has one instance where he almost lost his life. When he was in training, a man in his platoon failed to shoot off the active grenade at the end of his rifle. His sergeant noticed the grenade was still attached to the fellow soldier’s gun, so the sergeant picked it up with his hands and smothered it in his abdomen. The sergeant was “blown to pieces” right in front of all the other solders. With tears in his eyes, my grandpa told me that the brave sergeant sacrificed his life for all those men in training. They would have probably all died, including my grandpa, if he would not have smothered the grenade with his body.

“That is the definition of a hero,” he said, “someone who lays down his life for someone else.” In my eyes, every soldier that serves our country is a hero!

When I asked my grandpa what he wanted sixth, seventh and eighth graders to know about being a veteran, he said he wants them to be proud of their county. “The United States of America is the greatest country on earth!” exclaims Jack Slinger. And he wants them to be respectful and thankful to veterans and active soldiers.

Life lessons I learned from interviewing my great grandpa:

1. The right thing to do is not always the easiest thing to do, but it is the best thing to do because it is the right thing to do. Life is not easy, but I must attempt to do the right thing in every situation.

2. Veterans and soldiers are true heroes! Every day they offer to give their lives for our freedoms. They should be treated as heroes! I plan to thank a veteran or soldier whenever I see them in public. They deserve heartfelt thanks and so much more. We have no idea the sacrifices they are making in their lives for us!

3. Personally, I am so proud of my grandpas! They all have served our country in the military!

Jack Slinger, Michael Hoynes, Daniel Hoynes and Curtis Saylor are four men that are my heroes! I am blessed to have them as my role models!”

Felicia Pasadyn’s seventh grade winning essay

“What is Memorial Day? Sadly, in our generation, some of us do not even recognize the importance of this significant day. So, exactly why is Memorial Day meaningful?

Memorial Day means something special because it is a day to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Brave individuals give their time, effort and strength to protect our country and all that it stands for. In doing so, countless men and women have lost their lives that were treasured by many. These may well be our fathers, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, dear friends and the list goes on. Their hard work and ultimate sacrifice for our nation is sometimes taken for granted, so days like Memorial Day are very important to acknowledge. The heroic men and women who have died fighting for our freedoms must not be forgotten. We should take great effort in reminding ourselves of the strong individuals who lost their lives for us and our precious country.

Although we may not realize it, freedoms are not truly free. Freedom comes with a huge price — and sometimes that price is life. It is extremely difficult to be willing to risk your life for not only your rights and liberties, but also a whole nation’s rights and liberties. Our dedicated military forces are what give us the chance to celebrate this meaningful day, being eternally grateful we can live our lives with so many liberties. Our rights should never be taken for granted, and we must always be thankful for the ones who have paid the price for us today. This is why we must greatly appreciate the freedoms we have, and show this by honoring fallen heroes on Memorial Day.

We have set aside this special time to remember those who showed such devotion to our country. These brave people we can call heroes. The ones who have died while serving our people back at home shall be commemorated. Our dedicated soldiers who have passed away deserve to be remembered along with many others.

On days like these, I enjoy learning about the importance of reverence and remembrance. Even though I just turned 12 years old, I understand the significance of this day. After all, I am here today thanks to all the special heroes and their ultimate sacrifice. We should carry this acknowledgement onto next generations, spreading the message of gratitude. This Memorial Day, please remember to take a moment to reflect and be grateful. I know I will.”