Caledonia 5th grader had her poem chosen from statewide entries to hang in Senator Franken’s office


By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

Their assignment was to write a poem about a veteran in their life.

For Alicia Schroeder, she had two great options and had to pick.

“It was between my uncle J.J. and my grandpa,” she said.

She chose her uncle, who had served in Afghanistan.

“He lost a lot of good friends,” Schroeder said.

So she wanted to pay tribute to her hero who served.

As part of the assignment, Schroeder spelled out her feelings for her uncle and his service through her poetry.

“Celebrating the veteran in my life” was chosen out of hundreds of entrants from across the state.

Schroeder’s poem now hangs in Senator Al Franken’s office.

She was chosen as the winner of the sixth annual competition between 5th graders in the state of Minnesota.

“We rightfully honor the service and sacrifice of our service members and veterans,” said Sen. Franken. “But, too often we overlook the sacrifices that military families make when their loved ones leave to serve our country. I’m grateful that this contest allows us to hear firsthand from family members who make that sacrifice. Their poetry helps us understand what they go through when a family member is deployed.”

The contest

The contest, which is held in April, recognizes both the “Month of the Military Child” and “National Poetry Month” and is designed to help thank Minnesota families for their sacrifices while a loved one serves in the military. It is also an opportunity to honor an important veteran in the child’s life who may have served in the past but whose service remains impactful today. The contest was open to students in elementary, middle school, and high school age groups.

Contest judges included Minnesota Commissioner of Education Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Poet Laureate Dr. Joyce Sutphen, Major General Richard Nash, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, and Brigadier General Sandra Best, Chief of Staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard.

When Schroeder found out she had won, she said, “I was excited.”

She got a call and was invited to a ceremony where she would have been honored by Franken himself.

“We were out of town that weekend,” she said. “So we couldn’t make the ceremony.”

She said the poem was easy to write and drew on her uncle for the inspiration for the words.

Schroeder, who is the daughter of Kevin and Shar, said her parents were thrilled when they learned that she had been chosen by the senator.

“They were really excited,” said Schroeder.

Her poem is printed below.

Celebrating the

Veteran in My Life

By Alicia Schroeder

Caledonia Elementary School

First Place K-5 Division

My Uncle JJ was a veteran for that I’m very proud.

Men and women in the Armed Forces get appreciated by a crowd.

My uncle traveled to six different places. So I say he is tough as a brick.

I know the war was hard on him, but he is the best uncle I would pick.

He was honored with eight different medals for serving our country.

He liked to receive packages and letters and he waited for them monthly.

The war was rough, because he lost a lot of his good friends.

I hope no one else has to fight in a war.

I hope all wars come to an end. My Uncle JJ makes his home in Caledonia, Minnesota today.