Communications 2 from the bridge 3

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FRA’s Americanism Essay Contest

What The United States Flag Stands For

By Angela Bell, a 12th grade student at Centennial High School in Peoria, Arizona.

She was crafted in the hands of liberty and washed in the name of justice. She is saluted by the bravest heroes to walk this earth and a wretched curse to her foreign enemies. She is flown over battlefields as a symbol of victory and in remembrance of those she lost. Like a mourning mother, she weeps and drapes herself over her fallen soldier’s coffin, for they paid the ultimate price in her name. Their sacrifice gives her life. She watches over the future leaders of this nation as they gain knowledge in her classrooms. She resides along the bright stars as she gazes down at her loved one from her mount on the moon. She is the United States flag and she is revered by her people.

Since the inception of organized civilizations, societies have adopted symbols to represent their virtues and distinguish them from others. In this sense, America is no different. Founding father, revolutionary general and first U.S. President George Washington defined the flag as such

“We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty.”

Along with Washington’s definition are countless others; each differently embodies the nature of the star-spangled banner and what it stands for. It stands for freedom and a democratic government by the people. It stands for the blood, sweat and tears of the nation’s bravest soldiers. It stands for the trials and tribulations that a unified country overcame, against all odds. And it stands for the wildest dream of the youngest, purest American child.

Those stars and stripes are a beacon of hope for men, women and children of all nations; may the flag forever fly over a free people and may the United States never forget the cloth from which she was cut.



Angela Bell, Branch 77 Green Valley, AZ

7th Grade

1st Place: Gabriella Amos, Branch 99, Virginia Beach, Virginia

2nd Place: Kiana Tuttle, Branch 46, Honolulu, Hawaii

3rd Place: Annabel Peltzer, Branch 260, Golden Valley, Arizona

8th Grade

1st Place: Payton Tapp, Branch 11, Mesquite, Texas

2nd Place: Grace Mauro, Branch 275, Placerville, California

3rd Place: Caroline Cykoski, Branch 89, Jasper, Georgia

9th Grade

1st Place: Dominique Trull, Branch 289, Chula Vista, California

2nd Place: Kevin Harmon, Branch 22, Pensacola, Florida

3rd Place: Helen Linford, Branch 185, North Ogden, Utah

10th Grade

1st Place: Phoebe White, Branch 316, Springfield, Missouri

2nd Place: Elise Devlin, Branch 115, Philipsburg, New Jersey

3rd Place: Megan Vallieve, Branch 21, Ft. Collins, Colorado

11th Grade

1st Place: Taryn Patricia Murphy, Branch 47, El Cajon, California

2nd Place: Kiara Simone Mickens, Branch 66, Everett, Massachusetts

3rd Place: Julia Ziagler, Branch 278, Hanieville, Alabama

12th Grade

1st Place: Angela Bell, Branch 77, Green Valley, Arizona

2nd Place: Jeremy A. Herrera, Branch 94, Corpus Christi, Texas

3rd Place: Kayla Scharberg, Branch 44, Johnson City, Tennessee
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BRANCH 93 Patuxent River, Maryland.

FRA Branch President Tom Vatter (left) and Essay Committee Chairman Rob Reed (right) congratulate Angela–Leigh Sewell, the branch’s overall winner of the FRA Americanism Essay Contest for 12th grade.

BRANCH 146  Johnsville, Pennsylvania.

Shipmates Joe Millman and Charlie Glass congratulate Aidan Mesure of St. Isidore Catholic School, Quakertown, Penn., for his outstanding work in FRA’s Americanism Essay Contest. He was the local first place winner for 8th graders.

BRANCH 29 Bremerton, Washington.

Winners from the 2016 Americanism Essay Contest received plaques, checks and flags flown from the USS Arizona by (left to right) Shipmate Glen Wahlbrink, who chairs the branch’s Americanism-Patriotism Committee, and Bremerton City Councilman Jerry McDonald.

BRANCH 113 Stockton, California.

Shipmates celebrate the U.S. Navy’s 240th birthday with a traditional Cutting of the Cake Ceremony, which featured the eldest and youngest members of the branch: Shipmate Frank Niewiadomski and Branch President HM2 Maria Behm.

BRANCH 208 Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Shipmate Raymond Applewhite (left) poses with his former boss, Captain (Select) Kimberly Taylor. Applewhite was honored at the 8th annual Ordinary People Banquet for his sustained hard work, dedication and outstanding community service. The inscription on the trophy reads, “We applaud the few that inspire many.” Congratulations to Shipmate Applewhite!

BRANCH 22 Pensacola, Florida.

Branch President Jim Richmond (left) presents Shipmate John Johnson with his 60-year continuous membership pin, certificate and National President’s letter.

BRANCH 285 Syracuse, New york.

Shipmates Robert Deming and Branch Secretary Donald Groesbeck were on hand to congratulate Branch President Lynn Swetland as he receives his 40-year FRA continuous membership pin and certificate from Branch Vice President Gary W. Williams.

BRANCH 34 Tallahassee, Florida.

Branch President Earnest Reed (left) recognizes Shipmate Jesse Childs for his 40 years of continuous FRA membership.

BRANCH 344 Portland, Maine

Branch President Don Parker (right) congratulates two new members, Tony Batchelor and June Escott. Tony presented a USCG flag to the branch and June is the first female and WAV member to join since the branch was incorporated in 1978. Welcome, Shipmates!

BRANCH 242 Davenport, Iowa

Branch President Don Devore (right) and Secretary/Treasurer Bill Craig (left) present certificates and checks to North Central Regional Essay Contest winner (1st Place, 7th Grade) Kyle Skinner.

To submit a photo for News from the Branches, please e-mail a photo as an attachment in jpeg format to or mail a high-quality photograph to FRA Today, 125 N. West Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. Please include a brief description of the photograph and include the names of those pictured. Laser prints and scanned copies of photographs cannot be accepted.
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Message from the National President

What a whirlwind this last six months has been serving as the National President! In November, I traveled to Washington, D.C., for the Veterans Day Events; then on to Hawaii for the Pearl Harbor ceremony. The 75th anniversary for Pearl Harbor will be held in December 2016. If you ever have a chance to attend, it will be a rewarding experience.

I have been traveling to the various Sailor of the Year Awards ceremonies and have learned many different facets of each of the men and women who wear the uniform and who serve in the Navy proudly. Each sailor has contributed so much to this country each in his or her own way. They have been recognized by their peers for community service projects, as well as doing outstanding work in their career.

The weather was great for our annual pilgrimage. The ceremony returned to the Mast of the Maine. Many things have changed over the years and now that the Army has taken over the ceremony, we had to adapt to the new rules.

I was invited to speak at the USS Hobson Memorial ceremony in Charleston, S.C., and had the pleasure of meeting survivors and families who continue to honor the fallen sailors each year. I received a warm welcome from Branch and Unit 269 during the visit and I want to send a special thank you to FRA PNP Don Mucheck, who has been keeping the memory of the USS Hobson alive for the past 43 years. I am sure that he will keep it going for years to come.

Each unit has its own projects that have been keeping them very busy and we express our gratitude for all the work done at the various veterans medical centers. I am asking that those Units doing the work at these centers please consider enrolling their unit into the VAVS program. We have gone downhill on the VAVS program and we need to have 15 units in the program to reestablish our accreditation through the VA. Rozena McVey has accepted the chairmanship and will have a report after attending the annual VAVS conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

During my travels I was asked about the Auxiliary’s use of technology and have appointed a committee to research how we might use technology to streamline our processes. Committee members are working on diverse and unique possibilities that will save us time and money and allow us to better serve our members.

As we move forward in the Auxiliary, we must admire all those willing to serve as officers in their regions. If you have the time and inclination to serve the Auxiliary, we will truly appreciate your efforts to keep our organization thriving in the future. Remember the National President’s Project “Warrior to Soulmate,” which will enable military chaplains to continue on the path of reuniting families and empowering them with new perspective to improve veterans’ overall quality of life.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as the National President. I will be looking forward to seeing many during my visits to the regional conventions and national convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

The caption in the lower corner of page 36 in last month’s issue of FRA Today was incorrect. The photo showed RPEC Kathy Bearden installing officers in Unit 67; not Unit 76 as it was written. We apologize for any confusion the error may have caused.

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