Students at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School, Lehighton, were recognized by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 256 for their essays in the Patriot's Pen Contest.

Harry Wynn III, chairman of the Lehighton post, presented the $50 top award to Katelyn Hosler, eighth grade, for her winning essay, which will also represent the local post in the 20th District contest.

Wynn said that while he knows how important patriotism is to him personally, it was refreshing to see how much it means to the students who wrote the essays.

In her essay, titled, "Does Patriotism Still Matter?" Hosler wrote, "Patriotism still matters. Some people are true patriots while others are not."

She noted that, "A true patriot is a person that loves their country and shows respect for everything their country stands for, and are willing to fight to protect its freedom. Patriotism doesn't mean unquestionable loyalty to the decisions of the United States government, but acknowledges the injustices and cruelties that have been a part of the nation's history and accomplishments."

Hosler said she has a dream that the United States will remain a country of freedom, justice, fairness, and equality to all of its people, and to admit that the dream is not yet a reality, but a work in progress.

"A nonpatriotic person will give up when times are hard and forget about our country's freedom," she said. "Anti-patriotism stems from the belief that patriotism is wrong since it forces people born in a country to love the country or sacrifice themselves for it."

She concluded that "To be patriotic I can hang up my flag, attend parades, and say 'God Bless America,' not because the state is telling me to, but because I believe that while America may not be perfect, she's still the best game around."

Second place winner was, Zoe David, eighth grade, $40; and third place was Amy McConnel, $30. Students receiving honorable mention were, Sierra Volkert, Emily Mriss, Tamra Haupt, Matthew Greenfield, Joseph Bradley, Isaiah Fitzsimmons, Tyler Ritter, and Ryan Andrews.