The goal of the essay competition was to focus attention on the value of the freedoms we enjoy and the eternal struggles to maintain those freedoms. Cristine Cocce chose to write about the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Some 250 students participated, and the names of the 11 finalists remained unknown to the judges until the winning essay had been voted on.
By quoting former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, Cocce held that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance have “history, character, and context which prevents them from being constitutional violations.” Cocce, a Wayland High School sophomore, concluded her winning essay, “The Ignorance of a Nation: ‘Under God’ Is Constitutional” to become the recipient of the 2010 Wayland Veterans Memorial Freedom Prize.
She received the Freedom Prize award at the Memorial Day exercises on Mon., May 31 at the Lakeview Cemetery, where the program included an ex-POW from World War II Stalag 13, who gave, in detail, the story of his military career, capture, and incarceration.
For the past five years, the Wayland Veterans Memorial Committee has offered the Freedom Prize to a deserving student as part of an effort to “celebrate freedom.”
The winning essay, along with others, will be considered for publication in the “Town Crier.”
The panel of judges was comprised of individuals who had shown great dedication to the community. This year’s judges were Selectman and former State Representative Susan Pope; Robert Mainer, an active Wayland citizen, writer, and banker; and Jacob Montwieler, from the social studies department of Wayland Middle School.
Coccee is the daughter of John and Linda (Karnikyan) Cocce. She is a member of the Greater Boston “Nejdeh” AYF Chapter, the school’s softball team, and plays the flute in the school band.
Christine’s mother Linda was a member of the Watertown “Gaidzag” AYF Chapter, and her grandparents John and Alice were members of the Watertown “Gaidzag” and Worcester “Aram” Chapters.
Good work, Chris.