The American Legion Harrison-Lee Post #283 in Livonia held their 2021 Annual Memorial Day Essay Contest for Seniors at the Livonia High School. The First Place Winner, Shawn Warner (Lakevillle), presented his essay as the guest speaker at the Post’s small Memorial Day Ceremony at the Post. He was presented his certificate and check for $500 at the ceremony. The Second and Third place winners read their essays at the Post’s May and June Post meeting and were presented their certificates and checks. Their family members attended the ceremony. The following are the names of the winners and amounts of each award: Second Place: Trevor Breu (Livonia)- $250; and Third Place: Olivia Forbes (Livonia)- $250. In addition, there were 3 Honorable Mentions who each received $100: Owen Hensler (Lakeville), Ethan DeMartinis(Geneseo), and Amanda Virgilio(Conesus).
Shawn Warner is planning to attend SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse and study Environmental Sciences in the fall. Shawn participated in band, chorus, athletics (swimming, cross country, baseball, tennis, and track), and Boy Scouts. He considers Scouts a to be big part of my life and as important if not more than sports. Shawn Warner’s essay entitled “What Memorial Day Means to Me” follows:
“This morning I woke up early, preparing myself to march with my high school band for the Memorial Day parade. Tired from the week before, all I could think of was standing in the scorching heat and the weight of my drum holding me down. I think about if it is going to rain on us as we march. I think about traveling to several locations as I load and unload my equipment on a bus. I think only about the inconvenience associated with this morning’s events. As I walk down the stairs to get the pants and shirt that I know will be heavy and make me sweat profusely as I march, I look to my right and see a picture framed on the wall. My mother’s late father looks back at me, smiling in his military uniform. As I looked at the picture frame, I found myself lost in thought, and overcome with embarrassment and guilt for the thoughts that riddled my head as I forced myself out of bed and down those stairs.
I begin to think of the 245 years of men and women sacrificing their lives to protect our country. I think of the over a million Americans that have lost their lives to preserve our freedom. I think of the opportunities that I have been given because of the sacrifice of these heroes. Despite the sadness that comes with remembering those that have been lost, Memorial Day is a beautiful reflection of our community and how we celebrate the lives of those heroes that put their lives on the line. The actions of my family and my community make it clear how important Memorial Day truly is. Every year my Grandma attends the events of Memorial Day and marches proudly in memory of those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. My Uncle marches with his fellow veterans. When I think of Memorial Day I think of the parades, I think of the poppies, I think of the big trucks. However, the most important reflection comes after the day’s events are over. My family attends the graves of my grandparents and great grandparents, and I begin to think of being in the shoes of a soldier. My grandfather and Uncle fought in the Vietnam war and hearing stories from the things that they have seen are terrifying. Soldiers experience horrifying things that cause PTSD and greatly affect the lives of those that have served. Under the hard helmet of every soldier lies a person that has a family and a community that deeply cares about them. After experiencing trauma in my own life, I know how hard it is to lose someone. Therefore, every Memorial Day I think of the families and communities that continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones.
As I step out of the house, I finally come to the realization of what Memorial Day truly means to me. I begin to get excited to put my harness on and pick up that heavy drum. I think about how lucky I am to be able to march and enjoy the day with my friends and family. The thoughts about the heat and rain seem to slip away as I drive up to the school and see my peers dressed up and preparing to load the bus. I am proud that I am able to represent my community and join in celebration of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. When I think of what Memorial Day means to me, it is a day of remembering. Not only do I remember those in my family and around me that have served, I remember the many Americans that have served and continue to serve in order to preserve our freedom.”