The theme for the 2013 Patriot's Pen contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars is "What would I tell America's Founding Fathers?" Eight of the 127 entrants from Northampton Middle School – the eight who were winners in the local level, went on to the district contest with one, Katherine Hartzell, placing second.

Karen Bandzi, president of the Ladies Auxiliary to R. W. Fritzinger VFW Post 7215, Walnutport, welcomed winners and families to the awards ceremony and dinner on March 24.

John Getz, state adjutant-quartermaster, said the state winners receive a $5,000 prize and the national winners in Washington D.C. receive a $30,000 award. Along the way the students learn a lot about patriotism.

Steve Calles, District 20 commander, said it is very important for the students, and the teachers and parents deserve thanks for helping the kids get into the contest. He is "so happy for all of the winners."

Family members from parents to grandparents, brothers and sisters, attended to support their winners. Ryan Hartzell, brother to first place winner Katherine, was second five years ago.

Katherine Hartzell, first place, said she would feel honored to talk to the Founding Fathers. I would express my thanks to them for granting the people of America their wish for freedom.

From 13 colonies the country has increased to 50 states. There were many wars following the Revolution: Vietnam, War of 1812, World Wars I and II, Iraq. The country is courageous enough to stand up for its freedom.

Although there have been amendments to the Constitution, we still follow it, she said. America is considered a "safe haven" for people who have to flee their home country.

Finally, she'd tell America's Founding Fathers how grateful she is to them for creating such an amazing country.

Hartzell's parents are Jason and Wendy. She received a $100 gift card.

Hunter Becker, second place, would tell the Founding Fathers about the challenges that were overcome such as 9/11 and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Technology has advanced drastically over the past 200 years. We have developed many high tech inventions such as computers, microwaves and televisions. Our scientists have created so much advanced technology that it would take years to list including health care advances and improved weapons. The weapons help those who defend our country.

Becker's parents are Cory and Tammy, He received a $75 gift card.

Janessa Meixner, third place, said it would be a miracle to talk to the Founding Fathers. I'd inform them about the important things that we have such as technology, freedom and our thanks to them and other founding fathers.

If they came back into the world they would not know what many of our things are and certainly wouldn't know how to use them. We don't have slaves.

Her parents are John and Kristen Linsenbigler. She received a $50 gift card.

Carson Keefe, fourth place, said he would tell the Founding Fathers they are some of the greatest people to ever walk the earth. They should hear about today's military, technology and what made our country so great. After 200 years America is still a place of pride, liberty and freedom.

Tragic events make our world stronger. America overcomes obstacles like World War II or the attacks of 9/11. This country is fortunate to have freedom because of our military and veterans, Carson said.

His parents are Brian and Jeryl. He received a $25 gift card.

Lindsay Rinker, fifth place, would tell the Founding Fathers about advances in technology and the tragic things that happened. She would say there are about 24.9 million veterans living in the USA who all helped to keep us safe.

She would explain how technology is a huge change and is essential to our lives now.

Her parents are Duane and Donna. She received a $25 gift certificae.

Madelyn Deloglos, sixth place, would tell the Founding Fathers how the things they invented are still being used today such as bifocal eyeglasses and electrical lighting. The moldboard plow benefited farmers.

Her parents are Jeffrey and Nancy.

Heather Alich, seventh place, would tell the Founding Fathers about Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and how those attacks on America brought people together to protect our freedom

Her parents are David and Joan.

Nicole Spohn, eighth place, said she would talk about America in this century and how her generation is living. She would explain the different ways the military is fighting in America from what was here when the Founding Fathers were alive. She began her essay with "Dear Thomas Jefferson."

Each of the eight winners received a Patriots' Pen back pack.