Local students win DAR American history essay contest

Students from Faith Christian School took home the top prizes in American History essay contests sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

“Congratulations to all who participated, as all are really winners,” said Mazie Stone, American History chairwoman for the St. Joseph Bay chapter of the DAR.

All participants in the DAR essay contest, open to all students in Gulf and Franklin counties, will receive certificates that may be presented at Honors Day. Winners were chosen by three judges from the two counties who ranked the various components of a good paper which combines research with original presentation.

The topic this year for the American history contest for fifth through eighth graders, was “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” Nov. 11, 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the dedication of this monument, erected following World War I. 

Faith Christian School middle school students took the top places, with first places awarded to fifth-grader Nathan Peacock, sixth-grader Adam Richards, seventh-grader Brooke Peacock, and eighth-grader Conner Howell (FCS), 

Awarded second place were fifth-grader Gianna Epperson, sixth-grader Brayden Giovenco, seventh grader Jada Rice and eighth-grader Jakob Prine, 

Third place honors went to fifth-grader Alaina Green, sixth-grader Autumn Shearer, seventh-grader Molly Partin and eighth-grader Asher Peacock.

The DAR this year began a new contest for ninth through 12th graders, with the theme “Patriots of the American Revolution.’ Participants chose for their own topic a person of that era and discussed how he or she influenced the revolution or made some contribution to the new nation.

Taking home first place was homeschooler Ashton Lakey, with Faith Christian’s Annabelle Partin awarded second place and Sophie Sanchez third place.

First-place winners were treated to lunch at the regular meeting of the DAR on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe. Students presented their winning papers, to the delight of the members and guests, and received the beautiful DAR American History medal and a check.

The St. Joseph Bay Chapter of DAR meets once a month, and invites all DAR members who have moved here, or those who can trace their ancestry back to the Revolutionary War, to join us. Please contact Regent Carolyn Forehand at 850-624-3466 for more information.


HEADLINE Honoring the unknown soldier

BODY COPY: The following are two of the first-place essays in the American history contest for fifth through eighth graders


Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Connor Howell FCS Eighth Grader

Three years after World War I ended, I find myself sitting with my mother and sister in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. As we sit outside, that cold Friday morning, I look around and see thousands of people there with us. I am still in a daze over my brother’s death. It is hard to believe Tom is dead. We had no funeral for him. We were not given his dog-tags or any of his personal items. 

Tom was a fighter pilot during the war. He was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean during a firefight and his body was never recovered. Suddenly, I am shaken out of my thoughts and brought back into focus as President Warren G. Harding calls for a nationwide silence for two minutes in honor of the Unknown Soldier. At exactly 11:15, the casket arrives at the entrance of the amphitheater. What a chilling moment. I have mixed feelings as I look at the casket. I am sad because this brings a bit of reality to Tom’s death. A closing to a very long and agonizing story. This is it; it is final; it is now reality. Tom is really dead. 

The ceremony continues with a multitude of military superiors, chaplains, and President Harding giving speeches. The Marine Corps Band begins to play, and a chill runs down my spine as the Opera Company of New York begins to sing, “The Supreme Sacrifice.” At this point, I begin to feel more of a sense of pride. Pride for my brother and what he sacrificed for our nation. I sit up a little taller and put my arm around my mother’s shoulder. She too is experiencing many different emotions. I look over at Sarah and see tears rolling down her face. 

The music comes to a stop and the President begins again. The Unknown Soldier is decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross. A lieutenant from Belgium gives the Croix de Guerre; the Victoria Cross is given by a representative of the King of England; the French give the Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre; the Gold Medal for Bravery from Italy; the Romanians gave the Virtutea Militara; the Czechoslovak minister presented the War Cross; and the Polish government presented the Virtuti Militan.

 I sit there with an overwhelming sense of respect. Respect not just for Tom but all the men who fought. 

The Marine Corps Band starts playing again; this time the quartet leads the audience in singing “O God, our Help in Ages Past” and “Nearer, My God to Thee.” People begin to file out through the exits. The remains are placed in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and I feel a sense of closure. I can move forward now. Tom has been buried and recognized for his sacrifice. I know he will never be forgotten. I am comforted by the fact Tom and all the other soldiers who never made it home will forever be honored. I appreciate our government for providing this opportunity to all Americans. The opportunity to grieve, cry, and remember their loved ones who fought so bravely, even giving their lives for the greater good. As time will pass, I hope all who visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will appreciate the sacrifice given and honor those who gave it. 

I look down into my mother’s eyes and see reflected in them, the same feelings I have, feelings of closure and peace. Tom can now rest. We can now accept his death and move forward. I will always show honor and respect to all who serve in the United States military. May we never forget their sacrifices. Rest in peace, the Unknown Soldier.


The Dedication of the Unknown Soldier

Nathan Peacock FCS fifth-grader

One day, I went to my grandmother’s house after school. When I got there, my family was sitting around the table crying. I asked them why, but they did not give me an answer. After they finished crying, they told me that my brother, Tom, had been killed while fighting in the Great War in France. I was so sad that I would never see Tom again.

Three years later, my mom told me that we would be going to a memorial service. The service was to honor and remember the soldiers who died in the war. They were going to honor my brother. The service was to be held in Virginia.

Once my whole family arrived, the service started. We did not know that the President of the United States was going to be there, but it made me happy to see him.

The ceremony started with a gunshot and bugle sound. When this happened, President Harding stood up and said, “We are met today to pay the impersonal tribute.” I didn’t really know what that meant, but after hearing his speech, I knew he was talking about burying the body of an unknown American soldier.

In October 1921, the United States military chose four bodies of soldiers killed in war to put in the tomb in Arlington, Virginia. I hoped that my brother was one of the four soldiers that were picked. They could not tell us if it was Tom, because his dog tag fell off in battle. The whole time I was listening to the president, I was thinking about Tom and all the other men who died while fighting for my country.

After President Harding gave a really long speech, he asked, “Will you pray with me?” He prayed the Lord’s Prayer with us. Then, we sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and everybody started to cry. It was a wonderful, but sad, service.

After a year had passed, a man named Thomas Hudson Jones sculpted the white marble tomb. He put the words, “Here Rests in Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God,” and carved wreaths into the sides. 

My family moved to Virginia and we can now see the beautiful, white tomb every day. I miss Tom so much, because he was my only brother. It makes me feel proud of him for bravely serving my country. I am thankful that all the soldiers who were missing in battle were honored by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Every soldier that goes to war gives up time with their family and their everyday freedoms, so that America can have freedom. I hope that we never forget soldiers, like my brother, who gave their lives to serve our country.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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