The Veterans of Foreign Wars Hampden District 7 held its annual awards banquet on Sunday.
The banquet recognized local students who participated in the Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen essay-writing contests.
This year's winner, a Ludlow High School sophomore, answered the question, "Why am I optimistic about my country?"
Coming from a family of service members, Riley Harrington said her essay was all about honoring those in her life.
"I really just wanted to honor my town," Riley said. "It was definitely an honor to win it. My brother's in the military. My cousin's in the military. I just wanted to honor them and make them proud. I hope I did by winning it."
VFW officials said Riley also went on to win an award at the national level, in Washington, D.C.
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