Civil Air Patrol Cadets win in local VFW Post Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen Contests
Since 2004 Civil Air Patrol Cadets from the Boca Raton Composite Squadron have participated and placed in the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) premier scholarship contests. “Is there pride in serving in our military” was the topic of the VFW 2011-12 Voice of Democracy contest for high school students. The middle school VFW Patriot Pen topic question was “Are you proud of your country.” Each year more than 100,000 students compete for scholarships and incentives. Each contestant submitted both a written and recorded patriotic speech. Judges awarded points for originality, content and delivery.
VFW Post 10556 recognized their high school Voice of Democracy Civil Air Patrol cadet winners. Taking 1st place fifteen-year-old Atlantic Community High School sophomore and Boca Raton Composite Squadron Cadet Commander, Zackery Macdonald was awarded a $500 US Savings Bond. West Boca Raton Community High School junior, Cadet Airman Michael Mannino placed 3rd and took home a $100 US Savings Bond. Mannino researched military surveys as to reasons enlistees join the military and the number one answer was “Pride” in being able to serve their country.
Boca Civil Air Patrol middle school cadets took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places and VFW Post 10556 awarded US Savings Bonds to these teenagers. Cadet Senior Airman Hudson Rickard, received $200 for 1st place, Cadet Airman First Class Daniel Henao $100 for 2nd and Cadet Senior Airman Miller Caldwell $50 for 3rd.
Cadet Rickard explained that the military protects our rights. Quoting the Declaration of Independence Cadet Henao echoes that sentiment in his essay, stating “I thank this country for letting me live here because I come from Colombia and hoping to become a great citizen. (of the USA)”
Cadet participants of these contests get the opportunity to read their patriot essays at Veterans Day and Memorial Day events. This year at the Veterans Memorial Park ceremony, twelve year old Miller Caldwell told the crowd why he was proud of his country stating that, “America is a strong and powerful nation,” and that “Our Strength isn’t found in our numbers but in our resolve.” He further explains, “I come from a family with a long line of proud service in the military. My father was in the US Navy, as was his father and his father before him. Both of my brothers are enrolled in a Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school. I am currently serving in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program.”
The squadron also recognized veterans at Stratford Court, a Boca Raton senior living community. After presenting the Colors, several cadets were given the opportunity to present their VFW Voice of Democracy speeches. Cadet Staff Sergeant Johann Douglas told the audience, “I am currently a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol and plan to be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the United States Air Force after college. When I do finally put on my uniform and take my oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” I will do so with pride in my heart; just as all the service members past and present have done before me.”
Cadet Airman First Class Juliana Mora explains that there is pride in serving in the military “…because you know that you have done better than the rest. You have endured the hardships, the training, and the war. You are also part of something bigger than yourself, and you are placing the well-being of the United States above your personal wants and needs.” The audience also heard from 1st place winner Cadet Second Lieutenant Zackery Macdonald. He said, “The inspiration I have taken from my grandfather, who served in World War II and received a purple heart for his valor on D-Day, is something I live my life by. His legacy is a main driving force upon which I live my life and set my goals. His life was a life of pride. His service is a perfect example of the pride that was and still is a vital part of the United States Military.”
VFW Post 10556 Scholarship Coordinator, Past Post and District 3 Commander Barry Goldin stated, “The VFW is extremely interested in promoting patriotism and Americanism among the country’s youth and I was so pleased with the quality and number of submissions the Post received this year. Each of these young people has an impressive resume. They are all outstanding students, leaders and active volunteers in their schools and community. They set excellent examples of citizenship which all of us should follow.”
Civil Air Patrol, the official Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with almost 60,000 volunteer members nationwide. It performs 98% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 60 years.