Veterans Memorial Park

Local Students Show Support and Appreciation for Veterans

  • December 15, 2015
  • /   Chris Kazakos
  • /   Post Tags
In addition to laying over 11 thousand wreaths at Barrancas National Cemetery, not to mention a few more at the Vietnam Wall South, veteran volunteers judged a essay contest for local elementary and middle school students. The theme was "why we should remember our veterans." After reading through hundred's of great submissions, the winners have been selected: Margo Mason, a sixth grader from Brown Barge Middle School and Emma Sontag, an eighth grader from Creative Learning Academy. 

Here are their submissions. 

Why We Should Remember Our Veterans
By: Margo Mason, age 10
6th Grade, Brown Barge Middle School

Behind every grave is a story of selfless sacrifice. Behind the marker in section 32, site 192 at Barrancas
National Cemetery, there is a story that is very personal to me. It is the story of Staff Sergeant Cary Carlson
Ward, Jr.

Among our Nation’s veterans are the soldiers of the Vietnam War. They risked their lives to save innocent
people from a communist government, performing in jungles where sadistic foe lurked in every shadow. After
their sacrifices, they returned home, awaiting love and support from the country they gave everything up for.
Their America. Instead, they were belittled and ridiculed. For many Vietnam Veterans, they returned home to
signs of hate and protest, and spit hurling from the mouths of the very people they had vowed to protect at all

The story of site 192 is that of a Vietnam Vet. My great-uncle Carl wrote letters home to his Mom and Dad,
Mildred and Master Chief Cary Ward, Sr., US Navy, and his little brother, Marc. Over time these letters have
transformed into a living history of the sacrifice Vietnam Vets gave for a free world. His words breathe life to
the harsh reality of what the men and women of war face for freedom and love of their country.

I’ve read his letters and they are not pretty. Reading his words, I can see the death, anger and despair that war
brings, but they are rooted in hope for the world and pride for his country. In one letter, he told the story of
lying in a ditch for most of the night, as his company took on violent fire from the Viet Cong and after being hit,
he still stayed behind to save his fellow men and go back for his dead.

In every war of America’s past, men and women have stepped up to protect not only America, but her
conviction to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility. I have told part of the story behind one marker.
For every veteran who did not receive the welcome home they deserved, a wreath can deliver the hope and
gratitude they never got. Countless stories lie silently in this one cemetery, each deserving of honor. It is our
duty to recognize the value in each of their stories and their commitment to something greater than themselves.
Behind every wreath there is recognition of their service, and remembrance of their significance to this country.

Why We Should Remember Our Veterans
By: Emma Sontag
8th grade; Creative Learning Academy

The year is 1961. You are sitting in a dark field in the middle of Vietnam. Bombs and bullets are flying past
your face, wounding those around you. There is no knowledge of how long you will be here or when the war
will end. Still, you fight on for your country. You think about your child and how you hope that he will be able
to live in the land of the free as you did before the war. Right now, all you can do to help is charge into battle
and risk your life for freedom.

The dictionary defines a veteran as "a person who has had long experience in a particular field.” This definition
doesn’t begin to describe our military veterans. The Veterans of the United States of America’s Military provide
a sure foundation for our nation. These people, both men and women, are some of the bravest souls the world
has ever seen. They risk their lives to save their country and people whom they have never even met. For this,
they should always be remembered and honored.

Being brave can mean something different to everyone. Conquering a fear or climbing to the top of a mountain
could seem like the bravest thing in the world. To me, however, the veterans of America’s military exhibit
courage every day. They leave their homes, spouses, parents or even little children to go into battle. In war,
there is no guarantee that you will arrive back home safe and alive. The veterans risk their entire world to
protect our nation and sacrifice their own family life so that we, the people of America, can sleep easy at night.
As soldiers, they must go into battle and continue with fortitude. Watching close friends in the war die is one of
the hardest things to live through. Fear of the unknown can be painful; they stay to fulfill their duties.

Today, I was asked to write about why we as Americans should remember our veterans, but I feel the real
question is why shouldn’t we? Our veterans are the bravest people that I have ever seen; they risk their lives for
others and for their country. I am proud and honored to be able to say that I remember our veterans everyday.
They are the reason we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Veterans Memorial Park