The 15th annual Town of Gilbert Veterans Day Celebration took place Nov. 7, 2019, with performances by the Williams Field High School Symphonic Band and military salutes from the Higley Unified School Districts Air Force JROTC cadets.
Williams Field senior wins Veterans Day essay contest
Johnathan Gregus, a senior at Williams Field High School, won first place in the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade essay contest.
Gregus, a member of the Higley Unified School District Air Force JROTC, wrote about the need to show the “utmost respect” to service personnel through the year.
“Veterans Day is an opportunity to remind everyone of that fact. Soldiers risk their lives to protect us and our rights so that we don’t have to. They defend our freedoms we enjoy in this country and they have a positive influence on our next generation of service personnel,” Gregus wrote.
1st Place Essay:
Johnathan Gregus – Grade 12, Williams Field High School, Gilbert, AZ; Teacher: David Vaughn
Every year, Phoenix hosts an annual Veterans Day Parade. Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, began on November 11th, 1919, a year after WWI ended. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance which allowed Veterans Day to become a national holiday beginning in 1938. Since then, we thank our soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and our country. In this essay, I will be explaining how Veterans Day was formed and why we observe it.
World War I ended on November 11th, 1918, with 116,708 American soldiers losing their lives. In 1919, America proudly began honoring its veterans with its first Armistice Day Parade in New York City. In 1954, the Veterans Service Organization urged congress to replace the word Armistice with Veterans due to the additional wars of World War II and the Korean War. Today, Veterans Day is celebrated from small towns to large cities all with the purpose of honoring and showing appreciation to those who have served. It’s a chance for everyone to put aside petty differences and unite for a common cause in order to properly thank our Veterans.
Our service personnel deserve our utmost respect throughout the year and Veterans Day is an opportunity to remind everyone of that fact. Soldiers risk their lives to protect us and our rights so that we don’t have to. They defend our freedoms we enjoy in this country and they have a positive influence on our next generation of service personnel. My neighbor, Mark Billingsley, who was a Navy Pilot would always talk to me about what he did in the military and how his experiences shaped him into who he is today. I asked him what America would be like if we didn’t have a military and he responded with, “We would be speaking German or Japanese. The USA wouldn’t exist without a military, we would just be a conquered nation in the dustbin of conquered nations that no longer exist. From WWII history alone, Germany was close winning had our military not joined the fight in Italy.” The America we all know, and love would not exist without these brave soldiers defending our country.
I personally have been strongly influenced by the Armed Forces since I was very young. Holding these parades has allowed me to witness these brave men and women who have served our country and put their lives on the line for our safety and freedom. Realizing what these soldiers have done for us has influenced me to want to serve my country and I have elected to enlist with the Air Force National Guard. I am excited to dedicate myself to military service in order to sustain our country’s values that have been so honorably preserved by our Veterans. Veterans Day is truly remarkable.
All the award-winning essays are posted online and can be found at https://www.honoringamericasveterans.org/essay-competition/2019-winners/.