Derek Smith, of Lafayette Hill, a sophomore at Woodlynde School in Strafford, received Chestnut Hill VFW Post 5205’s 2014 Voice of Democracy Audio Essay Contest award, arguing passionately for the importance of veterans to our nation’s history and future.
Smith, 15, accompanied by family and friends, received a check for $250 and briefly addressed Post 5205’s veterans at the post’s 8217 Germantown Ave. headquarters on Thursday, Dec. 18.
Reflecting on his grandfathers’ war service during World War II or Korea, Smith counters popular culture’s “plastic heroes” and celebrates men and women who sacrificed real flesh and blood. His concern for America now is that our divisions may mitigate against the unity needed to focus on the nation’s critical issues.
As the winner of the city contest, Smith will attend a banquet in Harrisburg on Jan. 31, where the winner for the state will be announced. The national winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship.
Writing and speaking skills aside, Smith has many interests: running cross country, playing classic rock on his guitar, serving as a stage crew member, and fighting mixed martial arts.
He said Woodlynde’s faculty instilled in him the diligence and toughness needed to tackle life’s projects. And, his mom and dad, Drs. Diane and David Smith, lauded his manifest “never give up” charisma.
Smith wants to be a homicide detective. Why? To serve justice and help bring families closure. He may be only 15, but his focus on what is important far exceeds his years.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and eligible military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization. For more information or to join the VFW, visit its website at www.vfw.org.