EDISON – For seventh-grader Pranav Sitaraman, the American flag symbolizes the many “rights and freedoms” afforded to him and all Americans.
“I am allowed to practice any religion of my choice, and I can also speak about my own thoughts and ideas,” Pranav wrote in his essay for the VFW Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. “In addition, I can write anything that I want and can also gather with my friends. But more importantly, the U.S. flag also represents the character of our country.”
Pranav’s essay submission on “Why I Honor the American Flag,” through Edison’s VFW Memorial Post 3117, garnered second place in the state.
“I’m really proud about winning second place for the Patriot’s Pen contest and thank Mr. [Todd] Pagel for having us do these cool activities in class,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for both me and all the other students to present our ideas about America. I can’t wait to participate in this contest next year as well.”
Pagel, a history teacher at John Adams Middle School, who encourages his students to participate in the essay contest each year, said there were more than 300 students who participated in Middlesex County, over 3,000 in the state, and about 130,000 students across the country.
The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $55,000, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level.
The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.