What does the flag mean to you?
It’s a question that the Times West Virginian asks hundreds of children in Marion County each school year in an essay contest, which is used in a daily series during the month of June leading up to the Fourth of July.
Each year, the number of submissions grows as teachers use the essay as a writing activity in the days following standardized testing. What started with about 100 essays in its first year, “What the Flag Means to Me” has grown to to several hundred essays submitted each year.
And I love it. I get so excited when large envelopes stuffed full of essays come in. I have a large paper box that sits outside of my office door, and the staff members of the newspaper know to place submissions there.
I run to the box like a kid on Christmas morning and check to see how many “presents” I have. I’ve loved writing since I was quite young. I was an avid reader of fiction, but it was essays and reports that I loved to write. I guess I was made to be a reporter since grade school.
So I just love to read the writings of little ones. Instead of dreading to go through the giant stack of essays, I savor them like an awesome dessert at the end of dinner.
I see something amazing in each essay I read. A wonderful phrasing, a heartfelt reflection, an adorable drawing or even just the cute scrawl of young handwriting. My stack of winners gets way bigger than the available 22 slots. So I read them all again and narrow the list, though it pains me to do it.
Eventually, I get down to what I think is the best representation of the entries I received. Each school is represented, and there is a good mix of grade levels and boys and girls. From several hundred to 22, it’s a monumental undertaking. But it’s an enjoyable task.
I also enjoy the humor — intentional or not — in some of the entries I read. This year, we had a couple of grandparents who fought in the Civil War, one who battled the British and longer, much longer, spans of time between now and when the nation was established.
And then there are the ones that bring tears to my eyes, the ones written by sons and daughters of those who served in the armed forces and whose words are full of pride for that distinction. About 99.9 percent of them are spot on, describing the colors of the flag representing concepts like purity, courage and heroism.
So next week, when you start to see the “What the Flag Means to Me” essays run in the paper, know that every child who submitted one was a winner. With infinite space, I’d share them all with you so that you’d be able to enjoy them as much as I have.
Misty Poe is the managing editor of the Times West Virginian and can be reached by email at email@example.com, on Twitter @MistyPoeTWV or by phone at 304-367-2523.
What does the flag mean to you?
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
- Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer
Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions
This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year
It’s happening again.
It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.
- More Opinion Headlines
- United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project