Help Patriotism Prevail essay winners revealed, Utah student wins the Lee Warren award

Jeffery McKenna with Dixie High School Air Force JROTC cadets Cruz Cottam, Lee Warren essay winner Christopher Ames, and Kayla Lee Whited. Southern Utah Veterans Home, April 19, 2023. Photo courtesy of Brian Gibson, Avalon Health Care Group.

IVINS — The winners of Help Patriotism Prevail’s third annual Saving Dr. Warren…..A True Patriotessay contest were revealed at a ceremony held on April 19 at the Southern Utah Veterans Home located in Ivins.   Residents, honorees and guests were in attendance.  The ceremony date, April 19, was chosen because of it’s historical national significance…..the day the American colonists went to war against the British in 1775.  Dr. Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary War patriot, played an integral part that historic day, and the days that followed, until losing his life on the battlefield at Bunker Hill.  Warren, a true American hero since forgotten, plays a pivotal role in the novel written by Jeffery J. McKenna, which is the primary reference source for the essay contest.

Jeffery McKenna presenting the Lee Warren award to essay winner Christopher Ames and his teacher, USAF Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert Munson, the award being held by SAR member Jay Chapman and DAR member Karen Mangano. Southern Utah Veterans Home, April 19, 2023. Photo courtesy of Brian Gibson, Avalon Health Care Group.

Help Patriotism Prevail (HPP) is a non-profit organization founded by Mr. McKenna, a local estate planning attorney and resident of Washington County.  The mission of his foundation is to help teachers and other youth education groups, foster patriotism among their students in an exciting and engaging way.

One way this mission is fulfilled is by sponsoring this annual essay contest offered to all teachers and their students who use McKenna’s novel as a teaching tool. To further support that effort, classroom sets of McKenna’s novel, and downloadable lesson plans, are provided to teachers free of charge through the HPP Foundation.  This is topped of with another incentive, cash awards to the students who write the winning essays AND their teachers who mentor them during their writing journey.

Once again, U.S. Navy Commander (ret) Tony Moore, Veterans of Military Affairs State Officer at the veterans home, was the Master of Ceremonies.  Other ceremony participants included Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from Dixie High School, and students from Lava Ridge Honors Choir who performed two musical numbers directed by Caroline Harris.  David Fox, a WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran, led the Pledge of Allegiance along with cadet Christopher Ames.

The 2022-23 essay winners were revealed by Jeffery J. McKenna with presentation assistance provided by members of the Red Cliffs of Zion Sons of the American Revolution and Color Country Daughters of the American Revolution, lineage descendants of American Revolutionary War patriots.

Veteran David Fox and Dixie High School Air Force JROTC cadet Christopher Ames leading the Pledge of Allegiance supported by Red Cliffs of Zion chapter members Jay Chapman and Jim Harper. Southern Utah Veterans Home, April 19, 2023. Photo courtesy of Brian Gibson, Avalon Health Care Group.

This year, eighty-five youngsters ranging in ages 11-15 from various states participated in Help Patriotism Prevail’s third annual essay writing contest.   Ten finalist essays were chosen by Help Patriotism Prevail and scored by ten impartial judges.  Some of the judges were local while others reside in other states.  Scores from the judges were tallied and the names of the winners were officially announced at the ceremony.   There are three award categories.

  • Lee Warren Award – Essay titled Land of the Free Because of the Brave written by Christopher Ames from Utah.  He and his teacher, USAF Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert Munson were present at the ceremony, both receiving a cash award of $100 each.
  • Grace Levy Award – Essay titled Land of Liberty Marking Patriotism written by Anthony Sciara from Alabama. He and his teacher, Andrew Cotten, will be receiving a cash award of $250 each.
  • Steve O’Dell Award – Essay titled We Are America written by Lorelai Wei from Alabama.  She and her teacher, Andrew Cotten, will be receiving a cash award of $500 each.  A videotape of Wei reciting her winning essay was shared at the ceremony for all to hear and enjoy.

Cash awards for the top three winning essays are annually provided by the Avalon Health Care Group, administrators of the Southern Utah Veterans Home. Once again, the remaining seven finalists will each receive a $50 cash award provided by local Army veteran, Terry Dunne. He has personally funded these cash awards since the essay contest started three years ago.

An additional award was given out his year by a local Washington County veteran, USAF General (ret.) Bill Gorton, who read all ten essays and selected his favorite.  General Gorton spoke briefly at the ceremony, explaining the reasoning behind his essay choice, and participated in this first time award presentation.

  • General Gorton Award – Essay titled Patriotism in Everyday Life written by Mary Evelyn Kimbrough from Alabama. She will receive a cash award of $75.00 each.

The ceremony concluded with a closing prayer by Korean War veteran Anton Kuhlmann, also a director for the Help Patriotism Prevail Foundation.  The entire ceremony was videotaped by Avalon Health Care Group and can be viewed online using this link:  Patriot Day-Essay Awards2023.

All the winning essays can be viewed on Help Patriotism Prevail’s website:    Help Patriotism Prevail | Nonprofit.  This website can also provide additional information to teachers interested in learning more about the annual essay contest and to request a free classroom set of the novel Saving Dr. Warren….A True Patriot. This historical fiction novel with a 4.8 star rating was written for younger readers but being enjoyed by all ages. It is being offered on in paperback, audio and Kindle.  Use this link to view more about this wonderful novel about patriotism and the many testimonials it has garnered.

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