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Rock Island Academy and Erie Middle School students chosen as winners in Anderson’s Veterans Day Essay Contest

A sixth grade student from Rock Island Academy and a sixth grade student from Erie Middle School where chosen as the winners of State Sen. Neil Anderson’s Veterans Day Essay Contest.

Essays written by Laticia McCray-Brown from Rock Island and Reece Duncan from Erie were chosen from nearly 200 essays. The student’s essays are now hanging at the Senate Republicans Veterans Day display in the Statehouse rotunda. Both students will also have the option of shadowing Sen. Anderson in the district for a day or experience a day at the Statehouse as a Page for the Day.

This year’s contest was open to middle school students from throughout the 36th Senate District. The contest asked students to write an essay explaining the history of Veterans Day and the importance of celebrating the day each year.


Sen. Anderson stands in front of all the winners of the Veterans Day Essay Contest. Laticia McCray-Brown from Rock Island Academy and Reece Duncan from Erie Middle School were chosen as the winners from the 36th Senate District.

The essays are below:

Laticia McCray-Brown:

The History of Veterans Day is truly remarkable. As we know, “Veteran’s Day began as ‘Armistice Day’ on November 11, 1919; the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a federal holiday beginning in 1938.” “Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, and especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country outstandingly during war or peacetime.”  “In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month , an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as ‘the Great War.’ Remembered in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day was legally known as Veterans Day.”
            The history of Veterans Day is really cool if you think about it. Here is a fun fact: “Red poppies, a symbol of World War I from their appearance in the beloved poem ‘In Flanders Field’ by John McCrae, are sold in Canada and the United Kingdom on Remembrance Day to raise money for veterans or worn on the lapel as a tribute.” So when we think about Veterans Day, you will think about the history and why we celebrate it. I always say how brave these Veterans are and how they served us. They have a lot of respect and honor because of what they did. Why do you think we have a holiday just for them? To show them that we care about them and appreciate them in every way for freeing our country and saving it. If you see a veteran today go up to the and thank them for all they have done for our country and being so brave. 


Reece Duncan:

Have you wondered how Veterans Day originated and why it is a holiday? Well I’ll tell you. Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, and was the first anniversary of the ending of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance day, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938, and the end of the war meant world peace, so congress made Armistice Day. Now we celebrate Veterans Day so we can respect and honor or vets how put their lives on the line so we can be free.              

After being through World War II and the Korean War the 83rd Congress amended the Act of 1938 and the word “Armistice “was changed to “Veterans”. With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor Veterans.

It is important we celebrate Veterans Day to honor our vets for all the sacrifices they dealt with so we could be free. We need to thank them because they didn’t have to fight for our freedom. Some veterans are not liked because of what they did overseas (like in Vietnam) and this holiday is about thanking them for what they did so they know their service did matter.

Another reason I think Veterans Day is important is because I have a lot of respect for Veterans and for the soldiers currently serving overseas and for our National Guard. The most important reason Veterans Day is important is my dad. He was a private in the Army and his humvee hit a roadside bomb during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He suffered terrible injuries, but was airlifted to Fort Hood and received surgery to save his life. After he was medically discharged he received the Purple Heart for his wounds sustained in combat, and he now has PTSD. He was part of the 1st cavalry and guarded Iraq’s first election after Saddam Hussein. I think it is important that people celebrate my dad’s sacrifice and others like him. (Recently my uncle made master chief in the navy.)

The history of Veterans Day dates back to WWI and has been important to our country for 79 years. I think it is important we celebrate Veterans Day because my family is serving and sacrificing for our country along with the other veterans who deserve to be celebrated and honored, too. God Bless America!


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