Garfield Langhorn essay contest still inspiring kids, 10 years later

10/10/2014 1:24 PM |
Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Garfield M. Langhorn's mother, Mary Langhorn, with this year's sixth grade essay contest winners (from left) Christopher Donnelly, Alisha Griffin and Reilly Hubbard. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Garfield M. Langhorn’s mother, Mary Langhorn, with this year’s sixth grade essay contest winners (from left) Christopher Donnelly, Alisha Griffin and Reilly Hubbard. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

“Garfield M. Langhorn’s heroism inspired me to put people before myself. For example, my friend and I were getting bullied and I said, ‘Don’t bully my friend, bully me instead!’ That ended the harassment for my friend.”

So said Pulaski Street Elementary School sixth grader Christopher Donnelly Friday morning, reading from his winning essay chosen during the 10th annual Garfield M. Langhorn Essay Contest.

Christopher was one of three winners chosen from 272 entries this year. The two other winners were Alisha Griffin and Reilly Hubbard.

Private First Class Garfield Langhorn was a Riverhead High School graduate who was posthumously awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor after giving up his own life by jumping on a live grenade to save other soldiers in the Vietnam War on Jan. 15, 1969.  He was 20 years old.

The event’s keynote speaker, teacher Trevor Hewitt, along with retired teacher Mary Anne Harroun, said the contest is a way for Garfield Langhorn’s sacrifice and memory “to remain in our hearts and minds,” and helps both children and organizers to find the hero within each of us.

Alisha wrote in her essay: “I want to be like Garfield Langhorn by helping people in my community.” And by “respecting the memorial of the soldiers that were fighting in the war.”

Reilly ended her essay with this thought: “He did a lot to help other people. He was very young and wasn’t selfish. He would do anything to help people out.  It didn’t matter what it was.

“That’s the person I want to be like.”

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Mary Langhorn speaks with artist Gerald Slater of Littelton and Erik Eve of Patchogue, shown holding his son Benjamin Rodney Garfield Eve. Mr. Eve's father, Rodney, was standing next to Garfield Langhorn when he threw himself on the hand grenade that saved the lives of Mr. Eve and others.

Mary Langhorn speaks with Erik Eve of Patchogue (right), shown holding his son Benjamin Rodney Garfield Eve on Friday at Pulaski Street School. Mr. Eve’s father, Rodney, was standing next to Garfield Langhorn when Mr. Langhorn threw himself on a hand grenade, saving the lives of Mr. Eve and others.

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