GREAT FALLS - Patriotism is alive and well at Holy Spirit Catholic School in Great Falls and an eighth grade student has been honored with an award to prove it.
Colter Franklin admits he was nervous when reading his essay “My Pledge to Our Veterans” in front of the whole student body on Monday.
But he also did so with a sense of pride.
Colter was the only Great Falls student to place in the top three in the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen essay contest, finishing above hundreds of other Montana participants.
Students are given a topic encouraging them to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences by drafting a 300 to 400 word essay.
This year’s topic was “Why is the Veteran Important?”
“I just started throwing all my thoughts down on paper and I thought to myself, I could just talk about the Pledge of Allegiance because it’s a pledge to our veterans,” said Franklin.
Nationwide, nearly 68,800 students enter the contest. State winners receive $500 while the national winner gets $5,000.
Franklin earned a $200 scholarship for his effort, which took a little encouragement to enter.
“My teacher said that it was a really good essay,” said Franklin. “I wasn’t going to (enter) at the beginning but she really likes so I thought, well why not. If I don’t win, it’s still a good experience.”
His parents, Brandon and Raylene Franklin were also on hand for the surprise presentation.
His entry struck a chord with the judges.
“When reading his, you can hear the belief, hear the honesty, hear the passion behind it,” said Bill McCord, Post Commander for VFW Post 1087. “It really touched us all.”
Colter says he’s not sure what he’ll do with the money, he’s not even sure which high school he’ll attend, but he is sure of his appreciation for veterans.
“Thank you to our veterans, for your service,” said Franklin.