2014 NYS - Patriot's Pen - Jennifer Duclay

Project Description:

This past Veteran's Day, many of our Stimson students wrote an essay based on the theme “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.” The top essays were selected by the teachers of the Stimson social studies department to be entered into the contest ‘VFW Patriot’s Pen’, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Eighth-grader Jennifer Duclay was invited to an awards dinner at the VFW last week where she was presented with many accolades for her winning essay. Jenny took 1st place at our local VFW Post 1469, 1st place at the district level, and 2nd place at the state level. Congratulations Jenny! Also, congratulations to eighth-grader Grace D'Souza for achieving third place at the district level. Job well done!

Thank you Stimson Middle School Assistant Principal Anthony Sansotta and Social Studies teacher Karen Schmitt for supporting Jennifer in this achievement.

Call SailAhead at (631) 831-8763 for more information on past and future events.

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        Below is the essay presented by Jennifer Duclay for the contest: (and a video of Jennifer reading at the Huntington Station VFW)

YouTube Video of the 2014 VFW Patriot's Pen - Jennifer wins 2nd place in NY StateVideo of Jennifer "Why I appreciate America's Veterans?"

I was priviledged enough to have visited the US military cemeteries on the Normandy beaches in France. This was my first real "contact" with the reality of war. It was a real opportunity to understand the meaning of what sacrifice meant as well as the associated destruction wars produce by seeing so many white crosses. Every single white cross represents a young American soldier who died on these beaches.

This is when I started to see veterans differently. Often these service men and women are sent far away from their homes and families and put in harms way.

I believe I know how much they do for us. The level of sacrifice they go through is far beyond what we can understand. It's unfair to know that when they return from gruesome wars they are not appreciated as they should be. While at war they witness deaths, brutal injuries, fear, stress, losses, regrets and so much more. In fact, sometimes it even seems that they are forgotten upon returning home!

It is very difficult for many veterans to adjust to a regular life when coming back to America. Many come back with missing limbs or suffering from physical and mental illnesses like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They return to attend funerals of fellow warriors. No less than 200,000 US veterans are currently homeless in America! 20 US veterans commit suicide daily!

When they come home, people may notice them but they don't realize that the wounds are deep and the memories of unpleasant sights stay with the veterans for the rest of their lives. They see so much on deployment. They have to live with that forever. Most things therapy can't even help. Imagine how hard that is.

Not only do I appreciate veterans, but my family and I took the initiative to help veterans forget what happened in their military lives by taking them sailing. We take handicap veterans sailing and so far all of them are very appreciative. I must admit that I truly enjoy doing this for them and with them. I am proud to say that I have given back to these veterans, and there is so much more to give. I am also proud to say that I have now a lot of veteran friends.

Written by Jennifer Duclay
8th grade student (2014-2015)
Stimson Middle School
Huntington Station, NY

Suffolk County Legislator and Majority Leader Rob Calarco honoring Jennifer Duclay for her 2nd place in the state of New York.

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e: info [at] sailahead.org
p: 631.831.8763

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