The Skyway Veterans of Foreign Wars post 9430 celebrated essay contest winner Rachael Reed, 14, on July 14. Rachael has been submitting to VFW’s Patriot’s Pen essay contest since third grade.
“We have been with Skyway VFW Post since we have started,” Rachael’s mother, Terri Reed, said. “They have watched our kids grow up. Even when we moved out of the area, we still travel down and compete with King County just because we love everyone at Skyway.”
Rachael won the Louis W. Oppenheim VFW Post No. 1019 award and received $1,000. The family drove from Ferndale, Washington to the awards ceremony in Skyway.
“I’m super excited about the prize money, actually, because we’re adopting a few girls from Africa,” Rachael said. “So I’m putting the money towards one of the trips to visit them.”
Terri said they are currently in the process of adopting three girls from Sierra Leone, whose parents died in the 2014 Ebola outbreak. She said 17 of the 19 adoptable children from the orphanage will be moving to Washington state, and there are plans to keep them in touch with annual events. Terri currently has four biological children.
Aside from Rachael, each of Terri’s children have been submitting essays since third grade.
In a 2017 article, the Skyway VFW Post’s Cheryl Sheeler said they were encouraging students to participate in the essay contest in order to encourage patriotism and learn about veterans.
Rachael said her favorite part of essay writing is working with her mom. Terri works closely with her children to help them based on their writing strength, with her goal to get each of them using their writing skills independently.
As a home schooling mom, Terri said teaching her children writing skills is valuable for all aspects of life.
The Reed family is involved with VFW as both of Rachael’s grandfathers were Vietnam veterans, with Terri’s father being a lifetime VFW member. Rachael said she has been involved with the contest for as long as she can remember.
All of her children appreciate their grandfathers service and that they’ve been taught the value of patriotism, according to Terri.
“These essays allow research into the meaning of our constitution and an understanding of our freedoms as intended by our founding fathers,” Terri said.
She also said she was proud of Rachael’s essay topics under the theme “America’s Gift to my Generation,” and how far her essay got in the competition.
Rachael said she wrote about being thankful for freedom of religion, right to bear arms and freedom of speech.
“I want to say thank you to all the veterans who served our country,” Rachael said.