Austin VFW names young patriots

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nobody encourages more patriotism than Austin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1216.

Unless it’s Ellis Middle School.

For example, the 2008-09 Patriot’s Pen essay contest reached six schools, public and private, in Mower County.

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Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at EMS in the Austin School District; Pacelli High School; Southland and Sacred Heart Catholic in Adams; LeRoy -Ostrander; and Grand Meadow all submitted essays.

Nobody submitted more than EMS.

The theme was “Why America’s Veterans Should Be Honored.”

The Austin district’s first-place essay contest winner was Giancarlo Marconi, son of Luis Marconi and Juliana Pena.

He is one of only nine middle school essayists in Minnesota to advance for state level consideration.

The essays were between 300 and 400 words long.

John Register, son of Sue Register, was the last district winner to advance to state consideration.

While the school district winners received $2 and $1 prizes for their essays, the first-place national winner will receive a $10,000 U.S. savings bond and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for ceremonies at National VFW headquarters.

Annually, more than 115,000 essays are received from middle school students across America.

Another EMS sixth-grader, Bethany Rowbal, daughter of Stacy and Robert Rowbal, finished in third place.

Marconi said his essay read, in part, that “I believe all veterans should be honored for all the things they have done to protect our country and make it independent, while sacrificing being away from their families to go to war.”

Rowbal wrote “Veterans risk their lives for us.. They have earned the right for us to honor them.”

The EMS winners were announced at an assembly before classes Monday morning.

They included Marconi and Rowbal as well as Connor Bollum, Kolton Kreuer, Sam Bennett, Tim Malakhov, Anna Bachmeier, Olivia Hunt, Carlene O’Connor and Kendall Hull

EMS students submitted 160 essays.

This year, Southland middle school students submitted 99 essays for judging; Sacred Heart Catholic School students submitted 51; Grand Meadow students submitted 48; LeRoy-Ostrander students submitted 22; PHS students submitted 40 essays.

According to Landherr and Register, the VFW Post No. 1216 has sponsored the Patriot’s Pen contest for more than 10 years.

This year’s more than 470 essays was one of the highest responses ever received by Post No. 1216.

Landherr and Register expressed their appreciation to all the students for this submissions.

The VFW Post will host a dinner honoring the students, their parents and their teachers Thursday, Jan. 8. Both Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy winners will be saluted at a 6:30 p.m. dinner followed by a reception.

The invitees are asked to RSVP by Jan. 5 by e-mailing Sue Register at or calling 438-4880.

All Mower County schools winners are invited to the banquet.