Aleigha GlidewellMary-Frances Ladd

Local teens excel in VFW essay contest

HB-C students submit award-winning writing on topic, 'What Freedom Means to Me' and 'My Vision for America'

Two Rock County students will be honored for their writing skills at the Veterans of Foreign Wars District mid-winter meeting on Jan. 2 in Morton.

Eighth-grader Aleigha Glidewell and ninth-grader Mary-Frances Ladd, both in the Hills-Beaver Creek School District, wrote winning essays for the VFW scholarship competition, which recognizes excellence in original writing about patriotism and democracy.

Glidewell’s essay in the Patriot’s Pen category (for grades 6-8) won first place among local entries and first place at the district level competition. She received $75 for her entry, written under the 2015 theme, “What Freedom Means to Me.”

Ladd’s essay in the Voice of Democracy category (for grades 9-12) won first place among local entries and third place at the district level competition. She received $100 for her entry, written under the 2015 theme, “My Vision For America.”

Both students are invited to attend the District Mid-Winter Meeting on Jan. 2, in Morton, where they will receive awards for their accomplishments. Glidewell’s first-place essay will be entered into the state competition, and possibly national competition, which awards $5,000 for the first-place winner.

“We are very happy with how well our local students did this year,” said Luverne’s Terrie Gulden, Rock County VFW Commander.

Gulden publicly recognized Glidewell and Ladd at the Nov. 11 Veterans Day program at the Blue Mound Banquet Center in Luverne, where the writers were invited to read their essays to audience members.

He also recognized all the winning essay writers in the local competition, which drew 26 total entries.

Below are the names of the top three places in each division.


Voice Of Democracy

First Place - Mary-Frances Ladd, H-BC (ninth grade) $100 award and third place in District 3 competition

Second Place - Ryleigh Beers, LHS (12th grade) $75 award

Third Place - Riley Boese, H-BC (11th grade) $50 award


Patriot’s Pen

First Place - Aleigha Glidewell, H-BC (eighth grade) $75 award and first place in District 3 competition

Second Place - Bryn Mongeau, H-BC (eighth grade) $50 award

Third Place - Alli LaRock, H-BC (seventh grade) $25 award


‘What Freedom Means to Me,’ by Aleigha Glidewell

People all over the world have a different idea of freedom. What does freedom mean to you?   To me freedom means having the opportunity to be yourself. Here in America, we have a lot of opportunities to express ourselves. Other countries do not have the carefree lives Americans have.

Where I live, there are very few restrictions. You are allowed your own opinion. Career choices are endless. There are plenty of opportunities to learn, explore, and do many things. Taking your own path is encouraged.  Any religion is allowed, from Judaism to Hinduism.

My mind is my own. I have the right to make my own decisions based on my experiences and beliefs.  I have the right to ask questions and state my opinion.  I do not have to fear governmental retaliation.

Freedom means I have freedom from fear. I have freedom to pursue my education without fear of being kidnapped or forced into an abusive marriage.  I have freedom to go to a church and not fear that my family or I will be tortured.  I have freedom to learn about other cultures and not be persecuted.  I have freedom to pursue my interests and not worry that my goals and desires are inappropriate for my gender or social status.

Freedom is the right to share my freedom with the numerous refugees that come to America every year in search of better lives.  Freedom is the right to volunteer and help the homeless in our country.  Freedom is the right to listen to the stories of others and make a change in our world.  That is what freedom is to me.

Freedom is the soaring of the Bald Eagle through the sky in search of food and home.

Freedom is the dream of America! We must work together to bring this freedom to fruition.

Freedom means I have a choice.


‘My Vision for America,’ by Mary Frances Ladd

I had a dream about America. A dream where God is the head of every home and faith is where every leader stands firm and is not swayed by big money or big promises. A vision where we look at others and see only one race — the human race. Not ethnicity, or gender, but a mind that is capable of great things.  A brain that has dreams, hopes, and fascinating ideas that are yet to be created.

A country where those who are blessed richly reach out a hand and pick up those who have fallen down and been trampled. 

Our forefathers had a vision for this country as they gathered countless hours around a table writing the Constitution. They saw a country full of promise, freedom, and unity. A Nation under God … indivisible …with unity and justice for all.  What do we see today?  Wars, poverty, and crime? Yes, but maybe we should look closer.  There is so much good in the world!  Environmental cleanup and charity, medical research, and soup kitchens!  When it appears the bad is outweighing the good, we must focus on the good in order to overcome the bad!

Wars are something we see a lot of today.  But I have a dream where peace is attainable. Peace is not a big movement of thousands of people.  But where does peace begin?  Peace begins with one. One helping others, one standing in the way of bullying, and one being kind. Peace is you, one out of 320 million Americans.  You do matter, and together as a country we can grow peace. A wise man once said, “Do not ask what your country can do for you … but what you can do for your country.” One person at a time we can make the dream of peace a reality.

Bullying is a very prominent issue in today’s society. I have been bullied many times, and it is one of the worst feelings I ever had. I felt as though I was worthless and unwanted.  Our society today could be considered very much like a bully, strong and powerful on the outside, but very troubled and at war with itself on the inside. But what is a bully most of all? Broken, just as broken as they make their victims feel. Our country is broken … but definitely not unfixable.

I have a dream. Can’t you see it too?  Close your eyes and let your mind paint the picture.  Look closer. Can’t you see America coming out from their homes and down from the apartments?  Can’t you see them gathering together and holding hands?  Try to imagine them kneeling down and bowing their heads at the flag as they say, “In God we trust …” All this seems impossible given America’s situation today, but I think America has a bright future. I have a vision that maybe if all the wars stopped, if all the prejudice and judging ceased, if all the addicts glanced up from their phones, and if everyone put their neighbor first … maybe - just maybe - the impossible wouldn’t seem so impossible after all.

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