Three students at St. Peter and Paul Catholic School, Lehighton, were presented cash prizes on Tuesday for their winning essays in the 18th annual Lehighton Post 256, United Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot's Pen essay contest.

Recognized were Kennedy Malsch, first place, $50; Mary Grace Wilhelm, second place, $40; and Drew Lorenz, third place, $30.

The theme was: "What Patriotism Means To Me."

Dick Fink, past Quartermaster; and Harry Wynn III, past Commander; presented cash awards to the top students and also presented Certificates of Merit to all other essay participants. All sixth through eighth grade students at the school participated in the contest.

Malsch's said patriotism means giving back and doing things for her country.

Second place winner Mary Grace Wilhelm said that she believes "patriotism should be shown every single day."

She continued, "We as a country only show patriotism as a country on a few days, including Independence Day."

She noted that people can show patriotism by joining or supporting our country's military troops.

Third place winner Drew Lorenz listed the freedoms that allow people to feel patriotism for this country.

Lorenz wrote, "We have many freedoms that other countries do not have or allow. We have the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom to vote for the candidate of our choice in elections, the freedom to choose our religion, the freedom to live our lives anyway we want within our Constitutional rights."

Wynn thanked all of the students for participating in the contest.

"To me this is the best part of being in the V.F.W., to come out to hear the essays and present the prizes to the winning students," Wynn added.

The students will read their essays during Memorial Day services in Lehighton.