Two Pella Community students and one Pella Christian student received first, second and third place in the Pella American Legion’s annual flag essay contest.

Every year, the Legion asks fifth grade students from the Pella Community and Pella Christian school districts to write an essay about what the American flag means to them, their community and the country. The top three essays are chosen by members of the Legion and guest judges from the community.

Greta Miller took first place, Zoe Drabek took second place (both of Pella Community) and Leah Lorentzen from Pella Christian took third place. They received a certificate and a cash prize and will have the opportunity to read their essays at the regular Legion meeting on Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pella Memorial Building. The public is encouraged to attend.

Miller says the flag is a symbol of hope and humanity. She also says her grandpa served as a Marine, and her mom’s birthday is on the Fourth of July:

“I’m grateful for being protected by soldiers, and living in safe place call America,” wrote Miller. “I’m glad to live in a free country … The flag represents freedom to everyone from everywhere, there’s people who aren’t as lucky as us to be living in a free country, who look at our flag and wish they lived here in America.”

Drabek says she now thinks about the flag’s history and what it symbolizes when she recites the Pledge of Allegiance in class.

“It has seen more and lived through more than we can imagine!” wrote Drabek. “From June 14, 1777, to now, our flag has been around, helping us toward freedom, and that is truly incredible.”

To her, Lorentzen says the flag means hope, love and bravery.

“The American flag isn’t just a piece of fabric,” wrote Lorentzen. “To many, this flag represents freedom and hope to everyone in the United States. I remember seeing people putting the flag on the flagpole, and how they did it with honor and respect.”

Other fifth graders who participated in the contest were given a certificate of participation. This year, the Legion received about 229 essays between both schools.

Emily Hawk can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-628-3882.

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