Alexys Hendershot of Verndale took first place in the Elmer Goche VFW Post 3922 Patriot's Pen contest.

Alexys answered the question, "What is Patriotism to Me?" Her essay has been sent to VFW Sixth District for further judging, according to Ruth Clark, Elmer Goche VFW Post 3922 Patriotic Essay Chair. Alexys placed first at Verndale and received $30; her first place prize at the Post was $40.

Read on to see what Alexys had to say in her essay.

"What is patriotism to me? Patriotism is best defined by stating that it refers to the quality of a person supporting his country and ready to defend his country. A patriot never thinks twice before devoting his life to the liberation of the country. Patriotism is the secret behind a flourishing country. The sacrifice that a person makes for patriotism is commendable, and that makes a patriot immortal.

To me, patriotism means supporting our country in good times or bad, to never lose faith in our country, flying the flag to show respect and devotion to our country, and honoring those who have served in the defense of this nation, both living and dead, retired or active.

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Patriotism means supporting our country even when it’s going through rough or difficult times. You still love our country, even when things are not as you desire or you would like.

Devotion to our country means standing with it, no matter what, and working to make it better.

Patriotism means never losing faith in our country. You know that the ideals that our country is founded on hold true and you stand by them. You don’t give up just because something isn’t going the way you think it should go. You trust our country to get back on the right path when it has strayed off it.

Patriotism is demonstrated by flying our country’s flag, whether at home, or at work, at school, or at events. Flying the flag shows that you respect our country and that you are devoted to our country. Flying the flag doesn’t mean that you support everything that has happened in the past, but means that you love our country, and you love what is best about it.

Patriotism is also demonstrated by how you treat those who have served this country; both active and retired, living or dead. You can show your respect by your behavior toward them. You can shake their hand, tell them “Thank you” for their service, tell them they are heroes, and by helping them in any way you can. Patriotism means honoring those who have died by keeping their burial places clean, neat, and undamaged.

Patriotism does not mean that our country is perfect, but means that we strive to be the best we can be. To be honest, patriotism really means to bring people together."