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November 17, 2020 

Madlyn Rickert

Granbury High School senior Madalyn Rickert was named the winner of a Veterans Day essay contest among Hood County secondary school students. Rickert was honored at the Granbury ISD school board meeting on November 16, 2020. 

The contest’s objective stated, “Many students think Veterans Day is simply a day to ‘celebrate’ a day off from school. They don’t realize it is instead a ‘celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.’ The objective of this contest is to help students understand the true meaning of this day.” 

Rickert’s essay will be framed and displayed in the Hood County Courthouse over the next year.  The text of her entry follows: 

Because of the Brave 

When I think of Veterans Day, I’m reminded of my family members who have sacrificed to serve. I think of my great-grandfather who was my age when he enlisted to fight in World War II. I think of my grandfather who wanted to serve his country and enlisted in the Army. I also think of my father who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. When I think of Veterans Day, it’s not as some abstract concept, I think of it as a deeply personal day. 

From the second I was born, I would forever be labeled as an army brat, a military child, and the daughter of a military man. I couldn’t be prouder of these titles. When I was younger, I remember asking what Veterans Day was about. My parents would say that it is a day to remember and honor those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect and defend our nation. At a young age, I never fully understood why anyone would be willing to risk it all for a country that we had not lived in for six years, which at the time was most of my lifetime. As I got older, the more I understood. My father and every single person who served in my family did so because they wanted to protect and defend people’s freedoms at home and abroad, no matter what, because life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness belongs to all Americans. 

My family members never wanted glory or to become heroes. They joined the military to be a part of a mission and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. My great-grandfather joined the army during World War II. He was 17 at the time and joined before he was drafted. A year later, he was a part of the Army Air Corps, flying P-47 Thunderbolts over Europe. During one of his missions, he was shot down and landed in enemy territory and had to use the French Underground to escape to safety. My great-grandpa didn’t just stop serving his country after World War II, instead, he continued to serve in the military for several years after the war ended. My father served in the Army for over 20 years before he retired. My earliest memory is of seeing him in uniform. Dad’s role in the military took us all over the world: Germany, Italy, and Japan. We moved every three years to be where the military needed my dad, never once questioning it because it was his job and duty. He served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and each time he left it was with the possibility that he wasn’t going to be coming home. Once, right before he was set to deploy, my dad broke his big toe playing a game of basketball and was told that he could get out of his deployment because of his injury. My dad refused to let his men go to a war zone without him because he had a duty to his men to lead them and to be there with them no matter what. Dad went on the deployment with his men, broken toe and all, never once thinking about not going because it wasn’t an option. 

When I’m asked about Veterans Day, I will always remember everyone in my family that served and every single military person that I met over my years. Veterans Day will always make me feel thankful because I know how we could be honoring a family member on Memorial Day instead of Veterans Day. When I’m asked what Veterans Day means to me, I will gratefully respond that it means that my dad is home and safe, and that every single family member of mine that served is safe. It means that there are still people out there that are willing to put the needs of others before their own and give of themselves selflessly to protect Americans. It’s absolutely true that America is home of the free because of the brave and those willing to serve. So thank you, Veterans, for your service, because even though I was just a military child, I have seen and I understand what it means to serve.                        

Other GISD campus winners in the essay competition were Amie Rhea Green from Granbury Middle School and Anna Snow from Acton Middle School. 

Rickert (left) is pictured with community leader J.C. Campbell, who organizes both the Veterans Day and Memorial Day essay contest for Hood County students.