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Newberg's Alaina Voeller wins the eighth-grade category of the national DAR historical essay contest

A Newberg student of history has made history of her own by winning a prestigious competition. Her younger sister didn't fare too bad either.

Alaina Voeller, a student at Country Faith Christian Academy, recently won the eighth-grade category of the American History Essay Contest sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Sister Ainsley brought home second-place honors in the competition for sixth-grade students as well.Alaina Voeller

Both Voellers advanced to the national competition via a contest held by the Yamhill Chapter of the DAR in January. The chapter received 11 entries from students ranging from fifth- through eighth grade. On a national level, more than 23,000 students entered the essay contest from all 50 states.

"Chapters, states and divisions gathered the entries and enlisted a variety of distinguished judges to read and rank the essays," a release from the national organization said.

Chapter winners, one from each middle school level and one from the high school competition, progressed to the state level, where they were judged by state DAR Chairwoman Mary Parrott against winners from other chapters in the state. Winners at the state level were then forwarded to the Northwest Division chairwoman, where they were judged against entries from Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska before advancing to the national competition.Ainsley Voeller

This year's national American History Essay Contest commemorates the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The monument was dedicated on Armistice Day 1921.

"In their essays, students were asked to write from the perspective of a young person whose brother had lost his life in The Great War, and who had traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to be present with their family at the dedication," the release. "Students wrote about what this event meant to them and why they believed remembering those who gave their lives for our country is so important."

An excerpt from Alaina Voeller's essay spoke of loss and remembrance: "A light rain fell delicately, fitting for a day of such solemnity. How could thousands gather in remembrance of a man whose identity was known to not a single soul, I wondered as Mama and I fought our way through the sea of people at the Arlington National Cemetery. Those in attendance gathered for the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, wherein lay the body of an unknown hero who had given his life for the cause of freedom. In reverence, the crowd silenced as President Warren G. Harding's words echoed through the air. 'We know not whence he came, but only that his death marks him with the everlasting glory of an American dying for his country.' Drawing a shaky breath, I bit my lip to keep from crying as I remembered the war with a heavy heart."

Alaina Voeller and the other first-place winners will receive the DAR's Excellence in American History medal, a certificate and $1,000 cash award at the DAR's Education Awards Night during its Continental Congress on July 1. Her essay will be on display during the Continental Congress as well. Ainsley Voeller and other second- and third-place winners will receive a certificate and monetary award as well.

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