_ I had the honor of being a judge for the VFW's Voice of Democracy essay contest. Since 1946, this competition has provided high school students an opportunity to write and record a broadcast script on a patriotic theme. State winners receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. There they compete for $146,000 in scholarships.
This year the subject was "Heroes." All the submissions were well-written and thoughtful. The winner is Stephen Luxton, a senior from Sequim High School in the Running Start Program. His entry was entitled "Grandpa Luxton." Congratulations, Stephen.
_ The Freedom Fighters Honor Flight program was created in 2005 in Ohio by retired Air Force Capt. Earl Morse. The national program flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the national World War II memorial.
A Puget Sound chapter will fly its first 33 veterans there March 22-23. The veterans will travel on Alaska Airlines. The trip costs $1,000 per veteran, including transportation and hotel. Families of veterans or veterans themselves can apply for them to go. Veterans must not use a wheelchair and must be in fairly good health. Family members are invited to come as volunteer companions.
You can donate to pay for a veteran's flight by sending a contribution to P.O. Box 1688, Mercer Island, WA 98040. To learn more about the program, go to www.freedom fightershf.com.
_ Here is a no-cost way to let the troops know you are thinking of them during the holidays and appreciate their sacrifice. Xerox has set up a Web site that lets you choose a postcard that can be personalized at www.LetsSayThanks.com.
You can't designate who the card goes to, but it will go to an active duty person in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is a place to see comments from personnel who have received the cards. While you are typing out that holiday newsletter, take a minute and send a few of these postcards.
_ The Military Officers Association of America, Olympic Peninsula Chapter, has its Christmas luncheon Saturday, Dec. 19, at the CrabHouse in Port Angeles. If you are a former or retired officer and would like to get involved with a group that focuses on legislation impacting the military community, please come join us. Call me at 683-6419 for more information and reservations. MOAA also supports the Port Angeles NJROTC unit.
Contributors: DAR, Regent Kayellen Garrison, firstname.lastname@example.org; American Legion, Lorri Gilchrist, email@example.com; VFW Commander, Roger Padie, firstname.lastname@example.org; MOAA, President Jim McEntire, email@example.com, Marine Corps League, Terry Roth, firstname.lastname@example.org.