The Eunice Veterans of Foreign Wars held a drive-by banquet event on Saturday.
Winners of various VFW sponsored contests lined up in the morning to receive their awards. Those included winners for the Voice of Democracy, the Patriot Pin, Americanism. Also awarded were two teachers of the year and a Boy Scout of the year.
Each year, the VFW sponsors the Voice of Democracy contest, in which students write an essay on a patriotic subject, explained VFW Post #8971 and Junior Vice Commander for Louisiana Don Reber. Younger students participate in the Patriot Pin and Americanism contests.
This year's local winner in the Voice of Democracy, Hannah Benoit, placed first in the district contest. She then went on to place fifth in the state.
"We're very proud of her," said Reber.
Reber explained that the VFW's mission is to not only take care of veterans, but to help the community, and especially the youth, understand patriotism and the history of the United States.
"Patriotism is of the utmost importance in our country," he said. "As long as they understand what patriotism is about, it helps them identify with their fellow humans and encourage them to go forward and do the best thing they can for their community."
The drive-by banquet was held in place of the organization's yearly event and gathering because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Reber said next year the event will be much bigger at both the local and state levels.
Despite the changes, VFW members enjoyed seeing the students, parents, and teachers happy, even if they didn't receive an award. Reber added it's "great to see students participating and teachers helping them understand what this country's all about."
"We didn't go fight these wars overseas just for the heck of it," said Reber. "We fought it to protect our country and allow our kids to have a great life. When the kids win, we all win."
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