Winners of the V.F.W. Post 256, Lehighton, Patriot's Pen Youth Essay Contest at Ss. Peter and Paul School were recognized as part of the school's Veterans Day observation.

The theme of this year's contest was "When Should a Veteran be Honored?."

Presenting the awards and checks were Harry Wynn, chairman of the Patriot's Pen essay contest and past post commander; and Fred Shaffer, quartermaster.

Wynn said that he was pleased to be presenting awards as part of the school's Veterans Day program.

"This has been a busy week for veterans," said Wynn. He said he attended a program in Jim Thorpe, where Speaker of the House Keith McCall honored Vietnam Veterans and another one at the Lehighton Legion, where coins were presented to veterans, plus was part of the Veterans Parade in Lansford.

"I like being a veteran," said Wynn. "Its good to celebrate being alive with all my veteran friends."

Wynn said that he is a Navy Vietnam Veteran. He noted that Vietnam Veterans came home 40 years ago.

Honored as contest winners were Lauren M. Lesko, eighth grade, first place; Kyle S. Higgins, eighth grade, second place; and Emily Mriss, seventh grade, third place.

Honorable mention was given to eighth grade students, Danielle M. David, Ashton Galasso, Rebecca Hartman, Alysha Neff, Samantha Sirsky and Brandon Trinkle; and seventh grade students, Zoe David, Tamra Haupt, Katelyn Hosler and Sierra Volkert.

Candace Steffie, head teacher, opened the program by reading parts of a letter from Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, Washington. "America has a sacred trust to care for those who defend her. From the warriors who stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day to the brave men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, our veterans share a legacy of service that crosses generational lines and upholds the values upon which our nation was founded: service to a cause greater than self.

Lesko, Higgins and Mriss read their essays to their classmates.

Lesko wrote about a military man she met while on a plane ride to California. She said that she was in the midth of writing her essay when she talked to the man who was wearing a military hat about being a veteran. She said in her essay that the man said the he felt that he wasn't a hero, but was doing his duty to his country when he served in the military.

"He said he felt that defending his country was a reward for him," said Lesko.

Higgins essay focused on honoring veterans all the time.

"They have been serving for us," said Higgins. "They should be honored at all times. They have been serving for us."

Mriss said that the answer to when a veteran should be honored is they should be honored all the time.

"When you see a veteran anywhere, you should say thank you," said Mriss.

As part of the contest Lesko was awarded $50, Higgins received $40 and Mriss was given $30. Students with honorable mention were presented certificates.