Congratulations to Jon Opolski, Class of 2023, who recently earned runner-up status, along with a $1,000 scholarship in the VFW Post 7573 (New Baltimore, MI) Voice of Democracy Essay contest.
To compete in the contest, Opolski had to submit a written essay on the topic “Why is the Veteran Important?”, as well as submitting an audio recording of himself reading the essay.
He was invited to a special ceremony on November 21, 2022, at the VFW Post building, and read his essay to a group of VFW members and other award recipients’ families.
Opolski is the DLS Student Council Treasurer and has participated in Varsity Tennis. In 2022, he was the student manager of the DLS baseball team. He is also a member of the National Honor Society and the Link Crew. He has a 4.0 GPA.
AnnMarie Michol, varsity tennis coach, also moderates the Student Council, and said, “Jonathan is a Student Council officer and he is an excellent leader who is always completing projects without being instructed to do so. Jonathan is selfless, caring and very hard working and always puts the interest of the student body first.”
He holds a part-time job at the Wasik-Gendernalik Funeral Home in New Baltimore, a position that has stirred his interest in mortuary science. He plans to pursue the four-year mortuary science program at Wayne State University, which has also offered scholarship money.
Opolski attended Immaculate Conception Grade School in Ira Township.
His older brother Joe, Class of 2020, is currently at Aquinas College, and his younger brother Josh, a sophomore, is in the Class of 2025.
His uncle Aaron Schmid is from the DLS Class of 1993, and John Cafagna, Class of 1992, is an uncle through marriage.
Opolski’s essay is below.
The Reward to Serve
In life, all people possess those who they admire as their heroes, those who express excellence throughout their lives that others strive to achieve, or at least pursue. We view these people in a manner in which the utmost respect is bestowed upon them. Such people could be immediate or extended family members, friends, or coworkers, but ultimately the most inspirational and dynamic heroes in life are those who serve, or have served, the prospering nation that is, the United States of America. These individuals have not only risked their entire lives, but they have additionally risked both their physical and mental health. Continually, veterans model the very means of how our own lives should be lived in a free country. Through their various risks, health, devotion, and training, veterans truly emulate what being an American citizen means, and how we can continue to develop the legacy they have created for generations to come.
Risk is a concept that can be resulted with great reward. In terms of the veteran, the risk they accepted was so immense, that many people are unable to put into words their appreciation for the sacrifice of potentially their lives and their physical and mental well-being. Continually, many of those who have served in a treacherous battle experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), severe depression, and anxiety as a result of the scenes they witnessed throughout their time in service. To accompany this, groups such as Wounded Warriors Project (WWP), The Fisher House Foundation, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have assisted in countless ways, both physically and financially, the veterans who have struggled as a result of their service to our prospering nation. Though it is nearly impossible to reimburse each veteran for the ultimate sacrifices they have given our country, it is important that each individual bestows the utmost admiration for the many sacrifices they have made for the betterment of America.
In addition to the many health risks the Veteran experiences as a result of his/her service, the devotion each and every veteran obtains to the flag, National Anthem, and Pledge of Allegiance is extremely substantial, and exhibits the pride they are able to display in a free country. For example, when at a sporting event where the National Anthem is sung prior to the start of the event, veterans, whether disabled or healthy, exhibit the utmost respect (to the best of their ability) towards the flag they fought for. The admiration they bestow is so great and so inspiring, that in return, they should receive the same recognition and respect shown for the ‘Stars and Stripes.’
Admiration and devotion is vitally important as it pertains to the veteran, but without the countless hours of training and preparation required to serve our country, it would be nonexistent. At a young age, veterans put in an immense amount of time to train for the battles they would have to conquer each and every day. Whether in a classroom, a gym, or learning weapons tactics, those who serve began their senses of admiration and devotion before they chose to sacrifice their lives in service. This sense of devotion began for most as young individuals, realizing the impact they could have on our country, given their strength, power, and character. Every day, each person should thank a veteran when identifying one, bestowing the same admiration and devotion upon them, as they gave throughout their decision to serve, to make America the powerful nation that it is today.
As a result of the indestructible characteristics of each and every veteran, Americans view them to an extent that is so powerful that our thankfulness does not feel like enough given the sacrifice they have exhibited. The repercussions of the war that the veteran experiences deserves the utmost attention and as a way of ‘giving back,’ Americans should provide them with the assistance needed, whether medical, psychiatric, or any other method of assistance. As a result, each person in life has their heroes who they admire greatly for the lives they have inspired, but the true heroes in life are the veterans, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to serve the incredible and prospering nation that is the United States of America.