by Steve Peterson
Three West Sioux Elementary students were the winners in the Hawarden American Legion Post No. 254 Patriotism essay contest, ‘“I am the Flag of the USA.”
Jadilyn Vargas was named first place winner; Seth Salker received second place and Emma McManaman was awarded third place. All are fifth graders.
American Legion representatives Roger Johnson and Ron DeBoer were on hand. Students received United States flags and ice cream.
Vargas’s essay will be sent on to the next level of American Legion competition.
“What’s the most beautiful and gleaming thing that represents America to you? Well I think it’s me, the flag. I’m tall and proud. I can be found in a cemetery representing the people who died whether they fought for the country or not.
“When people raise me on the pole, I feel that I am representing America! Everyone has freedom in America; when they see me, they know they have freedom. They even have a song about America and me. It’s called the Star-Spangled Banner.
“I am all over America. When I get holes, I get sent somewhere else to get fixed like some where with professional knitters or I get burned on Flag Day. I go to places that are warm like Florida and cold like Alaska.
“Some people don’t care about me! They just think I’m not there. If they don’t care about me, then they just must care for America. If they don’t care about America, then they should see how it is in a place with no freedom. It makes me so sad that it seems that way.
“When I go to places that people really show respect like the military and the White House, and I feel more proud. The military salutes me almost every time they see me! It makes me feel appreciated. I love that feeling so much, I’m being loved!
“When you go to a sports game, Olympics or a cemetery, you should stand up, remove your hat and put your hand over your heart. You should do that to show respect. I love to see everyone honor me. Except for the people who think it is silly.
“At a cemetery I am put over coffins to represent that person is special to America. I feel happy, proud and sad about the person who died. I am happy when I get sent home with that person’s honorable family.
“I love the history of myself. I was first made by a lady named Betsy Ross. I had 13 stripes and stars back then because there was only 13 states found. Then more states were found and now I have 50 stars and 13 stripes. When I get holes, I usually get burned. I usually get burned on Flag Day.
“So now what do you think is the most beautiful thing that represents America to you? I hope this explained about me. Also to tell you how important it is to understand these things.
“I’m the American Flag. I hang on a 20-foot pole. I sway back and forth when the wind blows me. I’m dropped over a coffin, or on a wall. My colors are red, white and blue. I’m hanging for my country!
“Respect me with love and loyalty. Army men risk their lives for me. I’m respecting them so they keep on fighting for me. My people are proud of me. I will have freedom. Nobody is in charge of me.
“I will have pride in America. I bring freedom to my country. I will be gleaming because my country loves me. I will be happy because I have accomplished my goal. I’ve made it through another war. I have made it that far for my country.
“I’m hanging on the pole for my country. My country will be happy for me. America honors me with pride. People in the Army love me.
“When people passed in the Army, they are giving me to that family. When people get out of the Army or the Air Force, a lot of people are holding me there. People see me all of the time. I could be anywhere.
“I would respect my country with freedom. The state would be hanging their flag with me, too. I will be hanging for my country. I’m the flag that hangs the highest of them all. The first man who stepped on the Moon put me on the Moon. I’m still on the Moon for my country. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, there were fire trucks with me on the back. Some firefighters tried to put me up because I fell down.
“When there is a debate or a famous speech by a President, there will probably be an American Flag. When President Barack Obama was President again I was hanging all over. Whenever there is a sport, most of the time soldiers who have retired, bring me out on the field for the Star Spangled Banner. When there is a governor talking about something, I probably will be hanging there.
“When I am on the pole I feel freedom. When people die in the Army or the Air Force, my heart is broken. When kids at school say the Pledge of Allegiance, my heart is filled with love. I have 13 stripes for the first 13 Colonies; I also have 50 stars and they represent the 50 states.
“I like it when the kids at school say The Pledge of Allegiance. I feel free because they are representing me. I do not like it when men do not take off their hats for the Pledge of Allegiance. People should stand there for the Pledge of Allegiance. I do not like it when people do not obey the Flag.
On Veterans Day you will see me. I’m representing those who lost their lives for me, and the U.S. They are still fighting for me and the U.S. On Flag Day I get burned if I have a rip or holes in me. They say if I touch the ground, I should be burnt but this is not true. That is on Flag Day.
“I’m here for my country. I am up on the pole to represent freedom. This is what I do for my country. I make them happy because they are free.”
“I hang on school buildings all over the United States of America. I see kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance and showing their country joy. I also see them reading books about me and writing reports about me and that makes me feel so loving! When I see those wonderful kids talking about me and learning more about me, it just keeps me going. I wonder if those wonderful kids know how much I love them so much for doing what they do.
“Pearl Harbor was the worst thing I ever experienced. I saw so much destruction. I saw planes crashing into the Twin Towers, and it was horrible. I want to have people with other countries so we don’t ever have to go through this again. It makes me cry when I saw all these people trying to jeopardize me and my country.
“I see people fighting for our country. There are wonderful people and that’s what I want for our country is to be safe. When I see soldiers dying, it makes me cry but I know how much the flag means to them because they put me on their casket. I see a lot of soldiers risking their lives for their country. I feel safe and warming when I know there is people out there that show their love for me.
“That’s why I love soldiers and children and people helping one another.”