Patriotic essay earns teen $200

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A local student was recognized recently for writing one of the best essays in the state on the subject of patriotism.

Craig Middle School eighth-grader Millie Blackstun accepted an award for her essay titled "My Dream for America" at a Veterans of Foreign Wars function last weekend. Blackstun was chosen as one of the five state finalists in the Patriot's Pen Essay offered through Colorado's VFW. She was awarded two $100 savings bonds.

"I was really very excited," Blackstun said. "I didn't think it would make it that far."

Blackstun penned much of the essay on the importance of abolishing childhood hunger, stopping child sex abuse and eliminating racism.

A couple of eighth-grade classes at the middle school were assigned the task to write an essay for the contest.

Blackstun suggested that if Americans donated food and money to charities, childhood hunger could be eradicated.

"Hunger reduces a child's potential and capability for learning," Blackstun penned in her essay. "If every American donated at least one can of food or one dollar each year to charities fighting child hunger, this would not be a problem. This will give the children a healthy start in life and the opportunity for them to take advantage of a good education."

Blackstun said she chose to write about children because they are the future of America.

She also urged the education system to teach the importance of embracing other cultures and races in an effort to eliminate racism.

"By making schools teach children to appreciate and understand other cultures and races they will not be racist as adults," Blackstun wrote. "People will be able to live in harmony with other races and can teach their children to appreciate others also. This will help eliminate racism, which is a continuing problem in the young adult and adult population."

Blackstun felt compelled to write the essay in part because an aunt and an uncle work in the military and served in the war in Iraq. Both have returned unharmed.

"I was thinking about this stuff and it makes you realize that (writing this kind of essay) needs to be done," Blackstun said.

Millie Blackstun's father, David Blackstun, said the local VFW Post 4265 and area schools do a good job in getting kids involved in thinking and writing about topics such the price of freedom, being patriotic and ways to better our country.

"It really offers kids an incentive when there's a reward involved with the writing contests," he said. "This kind of thing helps them get their thoughts on paper and shows us what kids really think."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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