BERKELEY – What does patriotism mean to you?
If you were required to answer that on the spot, you might have a bit of trouble. You might know how patriotism feels, but can you put it into words? It might be a challenge.
That’s what Emily Strick did. She is a student at Central Regional Middle School. Her essay on the topic “What Does Patriotism Mean To Me?” was chosen as the best one submitted to the Patriot’s Pen essay contest held by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9503.
She read her essay during a recent Township Council meeting, saying that patriotism urges us to be “kind to our fellow men and women.”
Her essay talked about those who laid the groundwork of this nation, like George Washington, and pioneers of new frontiers like Neil Armstrong.
“We are a divided nation, and never before have we needed patriotism more than today,” she said.
Her essay was the standout among 66 entries, said Bill Dondero, Post Commander. Last year, there weren’t any entries.
The rise in entries was attributed to Central Regional staff taking the contest to heart and telling students about it, he said. He thanked Principal Joseph Firetto and Assistant Principal Gabrielle Carney, who were in attendance.
She earned a $300 scholarship for her win. Now, her essay competes with others. If she wins on the national level, she would win $50,000.
One way to demonstrate your patriotism is to vote.
There wasn’t much in the way of a local election. In Berkeley Township, 2020 was mostly about the federal races.
Locally, Councilman Michael Signorile was on the ballot. He had taken over for Councilwoman Judith Noonan when she stepped down earlier this year. He had to run to fulfill the last year of her term. It will end on December 31, 2021. He received 5,243 votes. There were 35 write-ins. He ran unopposed.
Freeholder Jack Kelly, swearing him in, joked that Signorile might never have a higher percentage of the vote. He earned 99.34 percent. His job, when he runs for re-election next year, is to make up for that missing .66 percent.