Mackenzie Leishman Voice of Democracy 3rd place national winner of $10,000 scholarship Elko VFW Post 2350
Austria 1944. It was a grey morning, still damp from the rain storm the previous night…and there was a shed. ITt was about three stories tall, but only 8 feet wide and 8 feet long. It was faded and falling apart and the roof was caving in and there was blood seeping out from around the edges on the ground. Inside this shed were stacks of bodies. Once handsome men, now deformed and degraded into shells of their former selves. Some were wearing only sacks, some had no eye lids, and the saddest part? They couldn’t have had the mercy of a quick death. These human beings had taken weeks to dies. I remember Carl Pacini, one of the first men to discover a concentration camp, describing all these things to me and crying. Almost 70 years ago, and he still can’t sleep through the night without nightmares. And yet…I sleep safely each night. How unfair is that?
My little sister asked me, “what’s a veteran?” I told her tho only answer I had. “A hero.” “What color is his cape?” “Well, some hers don’t wear capes.” “Like grandpa?” “Yeah…like grandpa.”
My grandpa was drafted into the Vietnam war, and when he came home, they yelled at him and his fellow veterans. THe crowds of people spat on them as they walked to their taxi cabs. And so a couple weeks ago, I sat at his funeral and then the guns rang 3 loud shots. It was the most final thing I had ever heard. And then taps sounded throughout the room, and it was really the respect he should have gotten the moment he stepped off that plane back 1973.
There’s nothing I can say that hash;t already been said. The veterans have kept America safe since the day the military branches were created, they’ve protected and defended my unalienable rights and they dob’t even know me. America has been victorious in every major war because of the Veterans. It’s because of them; we are a democracy for the people by the people. It is because of them in Iwo Jima, when the dust cleared, it was our flag still standing. No one else’s. They aren’t important to our history, because they are out history.
Our future…we wouldn’t even have one without them. I can’t predict what’s going to happen, if I did, I would be rich. But the veterans will be here to lead and guid the soldiers in my generation–the future veterans. I am so grateful to look around me and see that my friends, even now, are already preparing for the front lines of battle. I have five personal friends, months from graduation, that are already insisted. And some day when my own future daughter does the V.F.W. speech, and she will, she will be telling the stories of my generation and the one before and how her great uncle wore one of those green berets, and her grandpa was an accomplished sniper, and hoe her great grandma was in the Vietnam war. And she git all of this pride, from her mother.
I picked up a newspaper recently and found a name in the obituaries that I never wanted to see. Carl Pacini died at age 89, 7 days after my birthday this year, and just two days before his 90th birthday. I’m so proud of my friend, my veteran. This speech was for you.
6th Place National winner (patriot pen) $2,000 Scholarship.
VFW Post 8194 Eureka, Nevada
Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans
“The things that the flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything it stands for was written by their lives. The flag it the embodiment, not of sediment, but of history,” (President Woodrow Wilson). Our flag and Veterans have much in common. They represent out strength as a nation and the history they created and protected. Veterans are a gigantic brick wall protecting us from out enemies that try to destroy our way of life. Our American Veterans have been fighting for our freedom since the Revolutionary War. They have fought and died for our freedom and have protected all of our rights that are guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution and Bull of Rights. Some of the rights I value most are out right to free speech, to vote, to bear arms and the right to choose our religion.
I have family members who are veterans. My mom’s grandpa and my dad’s grandpa were veterans. I also have an uncle that is currently serving our country. He is a Marine and has been to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. I am very proud of him and thankful for what he had done for our country. m I also appreciate the veterans’ families that are left behind who constantly worry about their loved ones not knowing if there will ever see them again. I’be seen my aunt spend many holidays without my uncle and it is just as hard for my aunt as it is for my uncle.
I appreciate America’s veterans because they represent many characteristics that I admire. Veterans are brave, courages and unselfish. Veterans are willing to go fight and kill their enemies at home or in foreign countries. THey learn to adapt to the different cultures and unselfishly agree to leave their families for an unknown amount of time. The one characteristic that I value most in our veterans is the fact that they are willing to pay the ultimate price by giving up their lives so I can live free. I don’t know of any other way to show my appreciation to our veterans than to give my life to the fullest and never take for granted the wonderful gift of freedom they have given to me and my family.
I hope veterans know their sacrifice was not water and we honor them. Thank you veterans!