Announcing the Winner of the 2019 Mary Ryan Memorial Essay Contest

This year’s essay topic was focused around the American Legion and its 100th anniversary. Students were asked to reflect on the American Legion, what it is, how it serves our veterans, and how we can get veterans of recent wars, like Iraq and Afganistan, to join the Legion.

First Place:

The winning essay is by Luke McGovern, a 7th grader at St. Bernadette School. Congratulations, Luke!

Here is Luke’s essay:

The American Legion is the world’s largest veterans service organization with almost two million members. It has a long history of promoting and helping veterans who have served this country. The Legion has been at the forefront of many legislative victories on behalf of veterans and service members, including the first Gl bill that allowed many veterans to pursue a college education. The Legion also has service officers that each year assist thousands of veterans receive benefits from the VA that they earned through their service to our country. In fact, the Legion recently assisted my great Uncle, who served in Vietnam, obtain benefits that have greatly improved his quality of life. The American Legion is an organization that truly honors veterans and their families. The American Legion gives back to them and to communities in their honor.

I spoke with my father who is an Iraq war veteran and American Legion member about why he joined. He said that he would tell recent veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that the American Legion is an organization where they will feel the comradery that they enjoyed in the military. The Legion offers support, understanding and respect from those who have similar experiences. Moreover, there is strength in numbers and this generation of veterans has to pave the way for future generations of veterans just as previous generations did for them. Every veteran is truly a “brother (and sister) in arms.” The American Legion is the home for all of them.

Second Place:

The second-place essayist is Lylah Hoque, an 8th grader at Beverly Hills Middle School. Great work, Lylah!

The American Legion is a nonprofit organization that offers programs and assistance to US veterans, servicemen, and their families, no matter the age, gender, or race. It is the largest Veterans Service Organization in the United States, with over two million members and about 14,000 posts. Veterans and their families join the American Legion to build a sense of unity and community with those around them. Members can participate in many programs, such as recreational baseball and junior shooting sports. Along with these fun activities, there are also many programs provided to help members of the American Legion become healthier and happier individuals, like the Homeless Veterans Task force. This program was created to help veterans who are struggling and without homes find local resources and job opportunities, and to help them get back on their feet.

Since the program was founded in 1919, the American Legion has grown and helped many individuals. Veterans of recent wars would probably benefit from joining the American Legion. Many people would be willing to help and listen to them, and they could do the same to those who need it. Veterans who are feeling lost or unsure can find help, guidance, and financial assistance in the American Legion. For the past one hundred years, the American Legion has inspired veterans and servicemen to look at each other as a family.

Third Place:

Our third-place winner is Rohan Gurnaney, who is in the 6th grade at Springton Lake Middle School. Congratulations, Rohan!

I think that all veterans should join the American Legion. The American Legion is a nonprofit group created in 1919 by a group of WWI veterans. They have helped nearly 2 million veterans and continue to do so each day.

The American Legion has many career fairs for veterans, provides insurance for veterans, and creates hundreds of opportunities for homeless and unemployed veterans. The career fairs are offered in every state so veterans can get jobs after they serve. The career fairs help them navigate the process. Also, everyone deserves insurance so they have protection for themselves and their things. Almost 2 million veterans lack healthcare, which is dangerous because if they have unexpectedly high medical costs, they won’t have the money. Thankfully the American Legion provides insurance for veterans. Additionally,the American Legion offers guidance for homeless veterans in need. The Legion’s homeless veterans task force provides medical, rehabilitative, and employment assistance to homeless veterans. Clearly this 100-year-old organization does a great job of serving the people who have served.

All in all, the American Legion provides great tools for all veterans to get back to everyday life. Veterans of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan could use the services as a way to get back to a civilian lifestyle. From career fairs to providing insurance for veterans, the American Legion helps those who’ve helped our country. Therefore, the American Legion is a great organization for veterans of all ages.

We would like to say thank you to everyone who submitted their work for this year’s essay contest.