EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Four middle school students who honored American veterans were honored in turn at the Nov. 29 meeting of the Egg Harbor Township Committee.
Kerrissa Arjoon, Riley Eberwine, Kayla Anh Nguyen and Maddie Summer each received a certificate and a gift card to a toy store as the winners of an essay contest. They wrote about “What Veterans Day means to America,” and each read their essays at the meeting, which is aired on local cable access Channel 97. Family members, friends and supporters accompanied the students to the committee meeting.
Every year, the township’s Veteran’s Advisory Board sponsors an essay question, Committeeman Paul Hodson said before the presentations. He said both principals from the township’s middle schools work the contest into their school programs. Principal James Battersby of Fernwood Avenue Middle School and Principal Joe Marinelli of Alder Avenue Middle School were both at the meeting and helped present the awards.
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“These essays are incredible,” Hodson said.
Marinelli described the contest as a wonderful way for the students and community to give back to veterans.
First up was Riley, who spoke of his brother and other family members in the service.
“It’s a day we honor soldiers for what they’ve done and continue to do to protect our freedom. They have even sacrificed their lives for us,” he said. Riley added that America is still at war, with many armed service members overseas. He suggested sending care packages to those serving.
“Right now, my brother is overseas, and we send him care packages every month,” he said. His brother John Stakeman is in southwest Asia with the Air National Guard. Every time Stakeman opens a care package, Riley said, not only is he happy because he received something from home, “he’s happy because he feels that part of us is always with him.”
Riley said his father, mother, older brother and older sister have all served in the military.
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Kerrissa said the day honors those who protect the United States. It could be observed with parades, or just thanking someone who served, she said.
“The veterans are very strong people who may have seen some horrible things to make sure we were safe,” she read from her essay. She said veterans should be honored every day.
“On this day, we pay tribute to those who have served in the United States armed forces,” Maddie said. “These men and women have helped to make our country free and safe for all. That is what’s great about America. We have people that will risk their lives to make someone else’s better.”
Veterans should be looked up to, she said.
Kayla Anh said Americans hold Veterans Day dear, “especially if they had a loved one that is serving or that has served.”
She continued, “having a special holiday to honor these brave men and women shows that we appreciate them.”
It’s a chance to honor those who made sacrifices for their country and fought for freedom, she said.