VOICE OF DEMOCRACY ESSAY 2015-16 theme is: "My Vision for America"

The winners of the Voice of Democracy Essay also include: 1st Place, Naomi G. McManus, Brookfield High School, Sophomore; and 3rd Place, Courtney L. Goodman, North Mercer

Voice of Democracy Essay Winner

Surface Creek Valley honored its veterans on Nov. 11. An assembly at Cedaredge High School was held to honor veterans and also student writers from the high school and middle school who entered and who won the patriotic essay contests sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Winners of the high school Voice of Democracy essay contest were Amara Johnson, Blake Gash and Max Moore.

In the middle school division Patriot's Pen contest, winners were Katie Lindley and Jacob Miller.

Commander of the Grand Mesa VFW Post #9221 and Auxiliary of Cedaredge, Gary Tollefson, delivered some remarks to the students about Veterans Day; about the military; and about some history connected with the military services.

In a segment from his remarks, Tollefson brought current events to light for the assembled students in terms of President Thomas Jefferson's military campaign against the Barbary States that began in 1801. Tollefson said, "Over the previous 15 years, as a diplomat and then as secretary of state, Jefferson had tried to work with the Barbary States (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and Morocco). Unfortunately, he found it impossible to negotiate with people who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims.

"These rogue states would show no mercy, at least not while easy money could be made by extorting the Western Powers. So President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy's new warship and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli -- an act that launched the Barbary Wars and that was the beginning of America's journey toward future superpower status."

Also at the school assembly, known to many in Cedaredge, Dick Wellington, who served with the 10th Mountain Division, gave an account of his service in the famous unit. He described the unit's activities in World War II after landing at Naples, Italy, and then participating in the assault of Mt. Belvedere, and then on to more heavy fighting through the Po River Valley in 1945.

Another event honoring veterans took place later in the afternoon. There was a reception at Horizons Care Center at Eckert where veterans were honored with a ceremony that included family and friends. The vets were presented with certificates of recognition for their service in the armed forces.

Those receiving recognition were:

Air Force: Jay Hall.

Army: Richard Fischer, Ed Douglass, John Hibbert, Joe McFadden and Alice Winkler.

Navy: John Hawkins, Richard Miklich, Michael Petecki and Greg Cramer.

Marines: Thomas Balch, Paul Cook and Wally Rice.

The Horizons event was accompanied with a color guard which performed at several other Delta County venues in honor of veterans that day. The unit was comprised of Cadet Master Sgt. Jones; Cadet Airman Gardner; and, Sr. Airman Lyons of the Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary.

To read Peter Chan’s award-winning Voice of Democracy essay, visit

Voice of Democracy essay

With a theme of “My Vision for America”, Wilson’s entry will now advance to the district level, followed potentially by the state and national level. The national level competition includes an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC, next year. The local Voice of Democracy essay contest is open to students in grades 9-12 and is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 7016, in Atmore. Students from Florida and Alabama compete in this contest.