Featured photo: Eagle Scout Elijah Morgan of Fort Payne High School was awarded Scout of the Year by local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter Post 8600. Morgan’s Eagle Scout project was retiring 225 American flags. Pictured, from left: VFW Post 8600 Commander Joyce Shelley, VFW Post 8600 Junior Vice Commander Stacey Garmon, Morgan, Sarah Morgan, Glenda Morgan. (Courtesy of Stacey Garmon)
Each year the VFW Post 8600 recognizes patriotism and citizenship with area students, teachers and public servants, including the Patriot’s Pen essay competition, the Voice of Democracy competition, the Scout of the Year Program, the Smart/Maher Citizenship Education Teacher Award and Public Servant Citations.
The Patriot’s Pen Program is a youth essay competition for middle schoolers to express their views on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “How Can I Be a Good American?” The post received 87 entries from four local middle schools. The top six student entries received awards.
First place went to Kingsley Weathers of Litchfield Middle. The post honored Kingsley at the school’s awards day with several items, including a check for $100. Second place went to William Yancey of Rainbow Middle School. The post honored William at the school’s awards day with several items, including a check for $75. Third place went to Kenzi Rowe of Emma Sansom Middle. The post honored Kenzi at the school’s awards day with several items, including a check for $50. Three other students were recognized as honorable mentions – Ciarra Allen, Caden Holderfield and Maddie Tucker, all from Rainbow Middle.
Since 1947, the VFW has awarded scholarships to high school students through the Voice of Democracy program, in which students write and record an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “America, Where Do We Go from Here?” The post received 19 entries, all from Gadsden City High School, and recognized the top three submissions.
First place went to Bryant Birchmore, second place went to Reed Tumlin and third place went to Mikenlee Brooks. The three students were recognized at a special awards ceremony and received several items, including checks in the amounts of $100, $75 and $50, respectively.
The Scout of the Year program provides for members of local Boy Scout and/or Girl Scout troops to be recognized for standout citizenship, patriotism and love of country. This year’s recipient was Elijah Morgan of Fort Payne High School, whose Eagle Scout project was retiring 225 flags. He returned the grommets from the flags to veterans in his local community. Elijah attended the post’s June meeting, where he received items including a scout medal and a check for $100.
The Smart/Maher Citizenship Education Teacher Award recognizes teachers who promote civic responsibility and patriotism. This year’s recipient was Melissa Horsfield of Cornerstone Christian Academy. The post made the presentation to Mrs. Horsfield in front of her students and gave her items including a crystal apple plaque and a check for $100.
Each year, the post issues Public Servant Citations to local firefighters, law enforcement personnel and EMTs who show consistent excellence in the performance of their duties, consistent dedication to their responsibilities and continuous growth in the responsibilities and skills within their profession.
This year’s firefighter citation was presented to Chris Thompson of Whorton Bend Fire Department. The EMT citation was presented to Mary Nash of Altoona Volunteer Fire Department. Both were recognized at the Volunteer Firefighter Association meeting this past April, and each received a certificate of appreciation and a check for $100. Mary Nash was also awarded state-level VFW recognition.
The post presented law enforcement awards to Sergeant Andrew Willis of Rainbow City Police Department and Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton. The post presented Willis’ award at the March Rainbow City Council meeting, where he received a certificate of appreciation and a check for $100. Sheriff Horton was nominated by the Volunteer Firefighter Association for his support of volunteer firefighters, EMTs and their departments. His certificate of appreciation and check for $100 was presented at the Etowah County Commission meeting in July.
Post 8600 looks forward to continuing to promote citizenship and patriotism through the VFW programs. Anyone interested in any of the above programs may contact Stacey Garmon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Stacey Garmon.