Muster essay winners awarded during program
by W. Winston Skinner
The Coweta Commission on Veterans Affairs recognized essay contest winners at the CCVA-sponsored program honoring Korean War veterans.
The program was held Oct. 3 at the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts. There was a full house at the Centre for the evening which included a demonstration of rifle pageantry, choral and instrumental music and a scene from “1776.” The program was part of the annual Muster, sponsored annually by the CCVA.
There were few empty seats at the center, which accommodates 999. “I know we have a full house, and I’m so proud to see you,” said Malcolm Jackson of the CCVA.
This marked the fourth year for the Muster. “Something new to our activities was an essay contest,” Jackson said.
Local high school history departments were asked to invite students to submit short essays on the theme of this year’s Muster, “Korea — The Forgotten War.” Students were allowed to submit written or filmed essays.
Each school judged their own essays and submitted their winner to the CCVA for final judging. Independent judging was done by Dr. Walter Todd, professor of history and physical education at Shorter University.
Austin Williams, a senior at Central Educational Center and Newnan High School, submitted a video essay, “The 25th ‘Tropical Lightning’ Division.”
Williams’ video essay featured an interview with First Sergeant Charles Kennedy, who was one of the honored Korean War Veteran guests in the audience.
Austin Bernstsen, a senior at East Coweta High School, submitted the second place essay, “America, the Forgetful.” Receiving recognition as runners-up were Alex Adornato and Jared Oenick.
Adornato, a junior at Newnan High School, wrote “Korea: The Forgotten War.” Oenick, a freshman at Northgate High, wrote “Heroes of the Forgotten War.” Each of the four winners was given a certificate of appreciation by the CCVA along with a check for their efforts.
Todd, who retired from the University of West Georgia before assuming his duties at Shorter, commented on the quality and variety of the entries. “The essays were varied, very different,” Todd said. “Each one had merit of its own.”
Todd is a long-time exhibitor of the Vet-Connect program that is held at the Newnan Armory twice a year. He is also a frequent lecturer in Steve Quesinberry’s history classes at Newnan High School.
Todd noted Korean is often considered a forgotten war. “It may be forgotten to a lot of Americans, but it wasn’t forgotten to these students,” he said.
The evening program featured a scene from “1776” by drama students from Newnan High School. Members of the Marine Corps JROTC unit at East Coweta High posted and retired the colors, and Dakota Pickford, one of the cadets, presented a dazzling demonstration of rifle pageantry.
Dr. Doug Moore was master of ceremonies for the evening. Chase Worthey, NHS Chorus president, conducted the Newnan High School Chorale in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Caroline Thompson was the conductor for the chorale’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
The Newnan High Symphonic Winds played “Overture to a New Millennium” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” The symphonic group and the chorale together presented “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
The Canongate Elementary School Chorus sang “Fly High, You Grand Old Flag,” “This Land is Your Land” and “American Tears.” The Elm Street Elementary Chorus sang “We Celebrate America,” “We are the People of the 21st Century” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
“My America” and “Land of the Free” were presented by the Smokey Road Middle School Chorus. The combined band and choruses joined for “From Sea to Shining Sea.”
Jackson noted the Centre program was filmed by students from Central Educational Center and by the newly organized Newnan High School History Club.