Educating our youth about the sacrifices and service our military veterans provide is a part of the mission of the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. So, the non-profit parade organizers Honoring America’s’s Veterans once again hosted the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade Essay Contest this year as part of the education effort.

Open to all high-school-age students in grades 9-12 in Maricopa County, the essay theme focus this year was the parade theme of “Welcome Home Vietnam Heroes.” A total of 113 essays were received and were judged on creative writing, grammar, originality, content and theme focus. First-, second- and third-place winners receive cash prizes courtesy of Durant’s Restaurant, a ride in the parade and several other “perks” as a way of saying thanks for their efforts.

We are pleased to present this year’s second-place-winning essay by Chelsey Osteros, a 10th grade student at Peoria High School.


The things that every one of our veterans go through and have been through is unimaginable. It is something that you may never forget. I could never know exactly what you all have been through, but I believe it shapes who you are. Veterans are heroes. You have fought for your country willingly and have done it with a pure heart. You have done so much good for our country. You have risked everything – not only to fight for your freedoms, but mine as well. You deserve to be honored and remembered.

rotc-cadetsPeople often ask me why I am so dedicated to the Air Force Junior Reserve Training Corps. My answer is always the same: because I want to fight for my country. The Corps has taught me so much. I want to follow in the footsteps that my family has left for me. I want to give back to something that has given everything to me. I try to imagine what being in your shoes would be like, but honestly I haven’t the slightest clue. The thing I do know is that every one of you did it out of love and respect for our country. The love and respect you show is courageous.

There are not many people who would fight for our freedoms and represent our country without a second thought. You all fought for one reason and towards one goal. The reason was love for your country and the goal was fighting for the freedoms we all have today. Nothing shows more bravery than the things you have done. I am so thankful for every one of you. You may not hear it often, but you are truly cherished. Everything you’ve done is remembered. You’ve given me the opportunity to do things, and the one thing that I plan to do is to make a difference, just as you have.

There is nothing that could compare to the things that you have done. There is also nothing that could compare to the sacrifices that you have made. To serve this country is to put your all into it, and every one of you have done so. You may feel like you are never recognized or you are unappreciated, but take my word for it, there are people out in this world who do what they do because of people like you. Everything that you have done has made this country stronger.

People like you veterans give me the courage to want to fight for my country. I will always remember the things veterans have given to allow me to be where and who I am today. I hope that one day I am a hero just as you are. I hope that I can change someone’s world as you have changed mine.

Thank you for your service and Welcome Home.