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Roger Reese from Bemidji VFW Post #1260, presented Andrew Nissen of Blackduck Elementary School three checks from VFW Post #1260, Ladies Auxiliary Post #1260 and VFW District 9 (31 VFW posts) as the winner of the Patriot's Pen essay writing contest. There are nine VFW districts in the state of Minnesota. Nissen has participated in this essay contest for three years, winning the VFW Post #1260 for the last three years and was the top winner in VFW District 9 in 2010. The Blackduck School District and comm...

Nissen wins essay contest with Does Patriotism still matter?

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Our country wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for people who cared more for freedom than they did for themselves. Our first president, George Washington, gave of his own personal wealth and many of our first congressmen worked for free to help get our nation started. These people recognized that to have a great country there must be self-sacrifice.

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Throughout history Americans have risked their lives in order to protect and improve our nation. Both of my grandfathers left their families to serve in the military during times of war because they knew that the things our country stood for were more important than themselves. They knew, as I do, that freedom is worth protecting.

Today, we still have men and women who put themselves in harms way to protect our freedom. These people are the true American heroes of our time. Because of them, Americans have the opportunity to earn an education, become whatever they want and work to improve their lives. We can worship freely and express our views openly.

The United States of America is not perfect, but I believe it is the best place in the world. We can all be patriots by showing our pride and appreciation in all we do. As citizens, we cannot just sit by and let others make sacrifices for us. All Americans must do their part, do the right things for the right reasons, and be willing to work to keep our country great. As Abraham Lincoln said, "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."

Patriotism is defined as "love for and devotion to our country". I think in today's world it means more than that. James Bryce said, "Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong". Patriotism has been an essential part of our country's history, and it is as important now as it has ever been. People must not only love and defend our country but must also be willing to work together to make sure we represent the principles that our country is based on.

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