Columbia VA honors essay contest winners
COLUMBIA -- The VA honored winners of their Veterans Day essay contest on Monday afternoon at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital.
Students from middle schools and high schools in the Columbia Public School district were eligible to submit their essays. Employees at the hospital judged their work.
Columbia language arts teachers provided the opportunity to their students. They say it is important for their students to recognize the service and commitment these veterans provided not only for our country, but also for our local community.
"The beauty of this one is that it is local, and they get to actually come to the ceremony, and it's a such a part of Columbia," Rock Bridge High School English teacher Jennifer Black Cone said.
The essay contest, which has been annual contest since 1999, has been encouraging students to write about their personal experiences with veterans, and why they felt their service was important.
"I am also always humbled by how many of our students have vets in their lives, and they are really writing about things that are affecting their families," Black Cone said.
Grace Gomen-Palacio, who took home first place in the middle school division, chose to focus on the variety of people who have contributed to our military over the years.
"I wrote my essay about, I was like recognizing all the types of veterans like not just the soldiers but also the doctors and nurses, and I talked about how the ladies contributed," Gomez-Palacio said.
Gomez-Palacio, who is an aspiring author, said she is thankful for the opportunity be able to focus on her writing, while also honoring those who have served America.
"I thanked them a lot because I really value my freedom as an American citizen," Gomez-Palacio said.
The grand prize winners of the contest each received a $100 cash prize, which was awarded to them during Monday's ceremony.