Tomberlin wins Patriot's Pen essay contest, presents at South Barber Veterans Day program

South Barber eighth-grader Cody Tomberlin won the VFW Patriot's Pen contest from among the 12 members of his class. Retired English teacher Melva Armbruster judged the entries. He stood at the podium at Kiowa's Veterans Day Program and read his speech.

The gymnasium is usually filled with cheering students from pre-K to high school, local veterans and members of the public who want to honor veterans. Students perform patriotic music with the littlest children excitedly waving flags as they sing. Veterans are recognized individually. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the crowd was limited to mainly students, teachers and staff. The public was asked to stay home to help combat the spread of the virus. School officials still saw that the program was respectful to veterans. Vietnam veteran Bob Drake spoke about his service in the U.S. Army. The program was streamed live on the USD 255 Facebook page and can be seen on the school's website

Tomberlin is one of thousands of sixth- through eighth-graders nationwide who compete in the Patriot's Pen contest sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary. He is the son of Sarah Murrow and step-father Derek Murrow. The Kiowa VFW Post 5982 and Auxiliary sponsor on the local level and award monetary gifts to winners. Winning entries from individual posts go to the district level and those winners advance to nationals. The top prize this year is $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip for two to Washington, D.C.

Participants write a 300- to 400-word essay with the year's theme selected by the national commander. The theme this year is "What is Patriotism to Me?"

Tomberlin's essay follows:

What is Patriotism to Me?

By Cody Tomberlin

I believe that patriotism is working and earning something for yourself. I believe that patriotism is being a good person. I believe that patriotism is not something that is just given.

We have to take a chance. We have to try to be our best. We have to dig deep. I believe everybody has to be kind and courageous. In this year of challenging times of 2020, patriotism is difficult to define, but we have to persevere through all the hatred and all the lies. We have to want it. We have to do the right thing.

I think we should all be as courageous as we can. We can all be strong. We can all be courteous. We can all be kind. We can all persevere. We can all be determined to do our best.

I believe that everyone has the strength to be patriotic, but most are just too passive. Everyone always complains and argues that there is not enough patriotism in America, but the fact of the matter is that if we all show patriotism instead of questioning others' it will make our country stronger and more unified.

America used to show an abundance of patriotism, but now we struggle with forfeiture and catastrophe. Our flag flies today because of patriotism of the past, though we have many differences in both our beliefs and our opinions, we can all show patriotism in everything we do. It's a great day to show patriotism.

When we show patriotism we make each other stronger. Let's all work together in our everyday life to show patriotism. Patriotism to me is freedom. It is courage. It is showing our founding fathers we are worthy and proud of this country. Patriotism is a way of life. Patriotism is the way I want to live my life.


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