3rd Place

Craig Zeigler – 12th grade, Sunrise Mountain High School;
Teacher: Jennifer Kruska


War is a concept that has a certain stereotype in the minds of most people. It elicits thoughts of firefights in an isolated and faraway part of the world, far removed from the comforts and privileges of the United States. People are usually quick to acknowledge those fallen veterans who served in war and bear the scars from it. Their faces are typically promulgated over news broadcasts and tribute is paid for their fight against the opposing soldiers. However, this concept of war does not apply to a conflict that lasted for over 50 years – the Cold War.

A Russian nuclear missile on parade during the Cold War.

It is said that approximately 389 soldiers were killed in the years of the Cold War, a statistic that is not written about in the history books; nor was it shown on any news broadcasts. An example of this was an incident in 1960 of a U.S. Air Force ERB-47H Stratojet that was downed by a Soviet pilot over the Barents Sea. In this incident, the pilot, Bill Palm was killed, while ELINT operators Eugene Posa, Oscar Goforth and Dean Phillips, co-pilot Bruce Olmstead and navigator John McKone survived but were soon taken captive. These men could have easily been placed on desk duty and let each country’s respective political leaders talk it out, but instead felt an obligation that they needed to risk their lives in order to comfort the people. They were never acknowledged by the people, but their contribution was all that mattered.In the Cold War, our real enemy was faceless. It was an enemy as shadowy as the men deployed to eradicate this enemy. The true enemy during the years of the Cold War was fear itself. It was the first time in history where citizens scrambled to search the nearest dictionary for the meaning of war. The people were scared; fearful of an impending doom in the form of a nuclear weapon, where life would cease to exist before they knew it. Those same people scrambled to the nearest television set hoping to receive comfort and optimism from the words of the President, disregarding that they were already in safe hands. As a result, millions of service members were set to work. These personnel were sent to prevent the conventional war from ever taking place. They were dispatched from the air, sea, and land, as well as discreetly in environments where no one was ever able to know what really happened.

These men dying for their country were able to give the people of their country the opportunity to see another day, to extinguish any fear, and to work towards a world of peace.

As the son of a retired Naval Commander and FA-18 pilot, my heart goes out to all veterans, the ones recognized for their heroic efforts and the ones overlooked. Let Veterans Day be the day of commemorating all of whom have worn the uniform of any military branch, and acknowledge their great sacrifice and representation of our stars and stripes.

Please join us for the 2017 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 11 to honor our Cold War heroes and all our veterans. Our three Essay Contest winners will be riding on the Hall of Flame fire truck! For more info about the parade, click HERE.