By Ceci Marlow
This contest is held both in memory of Grant as well as to honor and respect our veterans. This year we received six essays despite it being opened to the entire county. There were four judges who rate on the meaningful-ness of the essays, not grammar, spelling, or typical writing elements (although it is helpful to understand the words chosen). The essays are read "blind"--that is, the readers do not know who wrote the essay, or their age, high school, or connection to the veteran, unless spelled out in the essay.
Our judges included three of our Post's veterans, plus a friend of an active duty soldier in Afghanistan now. About 25 people attended last night, including Grant's wife Nancy Purtzenski and her sister and brother. We pressed Larry Purtzenski, Nancy's brother, into service as the presenter of the essay medals from the American Legion when our own Post's representative was unable to attend.
Grant's mom was there despite many rounds of chemo in the last six months, along with sister Jody, brother Dean, and other good friends and family.
Jacob Ganzak, a junior at Hartland High School, won first place with an essay about Paul Scheidler, one of HHS' teachers. Jacob won $300 and a gold medal.
Grace Nicholas, a senior at Pinckney High School, won second place with an essay about Jack Stewart with whom she works at Pinckney Community Library. Grace won $200 and a silver medal. Gabrielle Montesanti, a senior at Howell High School, won third place with an essay about Duane Zemper with whom she works at Howell Carnegie District Library. Gabrielle won $100 and a bronze medal.
This contest could not happen without the gifts of several groups--the Friends of the Cromaine Library, the National Veterans Awareness Organization, the American Legion Post #415 of Hartland, a very generous gift from Anonymous, and individual gifts as well. We are deeply grateful for the impact these groups have had on the young people who took this opportunity to interview a veteran and learn what it means to serve our country.
What It Means to Serve One’s Country by Jacob Ganzak
The question of what it means to “serve one’s country” is one that is very important to me because I hope to one day serve. I had the honor of interviewing LTC Paul Scheidler, a veteran and current Hartland teacher. Mr. Scheidler spoke with pride and passion about his service in the army that started in 1982. Even though his mother was upset with his decision to join the army at age 17, Mr. Scheidler had a strong desire to give something back to his country. His adulthood and serviceship official merged when, on his 18th birthday, he had his first day of boot camp. The army has taken Mr. Scheidler many places that have been dangerous and damaging to humankind—ally and enemy—both physically and mentally. The army required years of sacrifice from Mr. Scheidler, but not without giving him something in return: “The military gave me a whole new perspective on life.” He spoke of how the military helped open up new doors and matured him. To Mr. Scheidler, serving his country was something that he felt was mandatory in his life—he compared his military service to community service. If his time in the army was community service, Mr. Scheidler is an example of how much more the rest of us can all give to our communities. I am very thankful for not only Mr. Scheidler, but to all veterans for their selfless acts of bravery. Though I too desire to join the military, I hope to be as courageous and unselfish as Mr. Scheidler not just in serving, but in every aspect of my life.