WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE — Veterans Day was first held in 1919 on the one-year anniversary of the end of World War I.
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill passed by Congress naming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day.
On Friday, Nov. 10, Washington High School observed Veterans Day, 2023 with a luncheon for veterans, which was followed by a program in the school’s Liberty Hall.
Student Nathan Upthegrove led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
There followed a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” sung by a group of Washington High School students.
Ed Helt, Americanism and Government Chairperson of American Legion Post 25, then spoke and introduced the winners of the Americanism and Government test.
Those winners from WHS were: Jayden Knuckles and Broden Keller, sophomores; Maggi Wall and Casey Hott, juniors and Landon Miller and Pia Robinson, seniors.
The Americanism and Government Test Program is state-wide throughout Ohio.
It consists of a 50-question test developed by American Legion personnel at the state level.
Questions pertain to the American and Ohio flags, the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and federal, county and city government. There is one essay question to be used as a tie-breaker.
Helt has chaired the program for many years.
“The A and G test is given prior to Veterans Day each year so the awards can be presented at the three local school districts on or close to the special holiday,” Helt said. “This combination has turned Veterans Day into a special treat for many local veterans.”
Other than the expenses the Post carries for the annual project, there are outside entities that provide additional sources to add to the awards given to the local winners, Helt explained.
“One of those is the Fayette County Veterans Service Commission and office,” Helt said. “For many years, they have donated a ball-point pen personalized with patriotic design and their contact information for all 18 of the local winners, printing the 18 certificates for the county winners, along with participation award for the three school districts in the county.”
Helt also gave a thank you to Nick Epfiano, owner and operator of McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown, for his donations for many years to the winners. Among those items were gift cards to all 18 winners.
The contest doesn’t end there, Helt explained.
The six county winners’ test papers and the scores are forwarded to District No. 7 to choose the six-highest scoring from any of the 26 Legion posts in the District.
Those students’ scores are then sent, along with the winners’ scores of all 14 Districts to the American Legion Department of Ohio in Delaware for final judging and the final selection of the 18 entries as the State winners for the year 2023-24.
The final 18 students receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Gettysburg, Pa. and Washington D.C., where they will be chaperoned for five days by state officials and other dignitaries, Helt noted.
“Over the years, Fayette County has had several state winners and just last year had five,” Helt said.
Prior to the announcement of the winners, Helt asked all of the following to stand and be recognized: veterans from the various branches of the military, as well as members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and AMVets.
“There is one other group comprised of men and women…that deserve special recognition for their dedication and volunteer service to bestow any deceased veteran with military honors at their funeral,” Helt said. “Without regard to the weather — whatever Mother Nature may provide — hot or cold, good or bad, these members make this all-important service available, which is so much appreciated by the family and others.”
After the announcement of the winners from Washington High School, Helt made a presentation to Principal Brady Streitenberger recognizing his help in all facets of the program.
In addition to Washington High School, presentations were made at Miami Trace High School and Fayette Christian School Friday.
The winners from Miami Trace are: Blake Steele and Kaley Moser, seniors; Justin Thompson and Kilee Holt, juniors, and Jake Hicks and Annabelle Eggleton, sophomores.
The winners from Fayette Christian School are: Logan Figuerado and Kate Melvin, seniors; Gannen McDaniel and Jillian Adams, juniors, and Ben Melvin and Luisa Epifano, sophomores.