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May 31, 2017
Memorial Day Essay Contest  
Tyler Rodgers, a fifth grader at Acton Elementary School, was pronounced the winner of a Memorial Day essay contest during a community celebration on May 29, 2017.
The contest was initiated by J.C. Campbell, a veteran and community leader who felt it was important for students to commemorate armed services personnel who have died in service to the nation.
The program objective for the fifth grade competition states, “Many students think Memorial Day is simply a day to ‘celebrate’ a day off from school.  They don’t realize it is instead a day to ‘commemorate’ or remember those who have lost their lives in all American Wars.  The objective of this contest is to help students understand the true meaning of this day.”
The text of Rodgers’s essay entitled “What Memorial Day Means to Me” was:
While deployed in May of 2003, my dad’s convoy ran over an IED.  The explosion hit the lead Humvee and killed all four soldiers in it, including the first lieutenant who was fresh out of college on his first deployment.  This story of lost lives is just one among thousands and thousands.
Memorial Day is a day to honor the people that have fallen serving our country, like the lieutenant who was only 24 years old.  He was a leader and an inspiration to many because he stepped up to defend the country.  To me, this a real, true hero.  There has been a lot of people that fought for our nation and they are also heroes.  I’m very thankful for people like this so we have freedom and can do stuff we enjoy, especially the many, everyday things we take for granted, like going to school and having the right to vote.
Most people think Memorial Day is a day of no school and to cookout with family, but to me it’s much more than that.  I come from a military family, and while they sacrificed, there are those who gave much more.  They gave everything.  On Memorial Day I think of those who gave their lives.  This day is one to remember the people who died for us to be free, because they are the reason we are.
To celebrate this meaningful day we invite friends over, swim, and cookout.  Later, we usually go on the boat with another family to tube and swim.  But while we do all of this fun stuff, in my mind I think about what Memorial Day really means…which is sacrifice, honor, and freedom.
Rodgers was one of five Granbury ISD campus winners vying for the top prize.  Others were:  Owen Aramburu, Oak Woods School; Sarah Boyd, Baccus Elementary School; Silas Hughes, Mambrino School; Brasen Moore, Brawner Intermediate School.
The contest followed state curriculum guidelines regarding fifth grade citizenship, which specifies that students understand “important symbols, customs, celebrations, and landmarks that represent American beliefs and principles and contribute to our national identity” and “describe the origins and significance of national celebrations such as Memorial Day.”