MAY 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Aprile Bertomo Places in VFW’s District-level Essay Contest

Demarest, NJ: Aprile Bertomo of Bergenfield has been recognized as an “outstanding spokesperson for freedom” for her second place finish in the District 2 New Jersey Voice of Democracy essay contest.

Last fall, Bertomo’s essay, “For the Brave,” earned her the top prize in the Bergenfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6467 segment of the VOD contest, which included 175 entrants. Her win also gave her the opportunity to participate in the district-level event, which included all of the winners from all of Bergen County’s VFW posts.

Following her district-level win this spring, she was honored at a ceremony held at VFW Post 2867 in Garfield, where she received a certificate and two checks totaling $175.

This year, the VFW asked teen VOD entrants to consider the topic “American History: Our Hope for the Future.” Contestants wrote essays based on that theme and recorded themselves reading their essays. Each entry was judged on the basis of originality, content, and delivery.

In her award-winning essay, Bertomo noted that America is a land of opportunities and rich natural resources, and is respected for its cultural diversity and entrepreneurial culture.

“America offers excellent educational opportunities for students who aspire to make a difference in the world,” she wrote.
“The things we may take for granted are hard-earned, a combination of blood, sweat, and tears from the embattled men and women of our country. The sacrifices they make, including leaving their loved ones behind to fight for the glory called freedom, are highly commendable. Yet, with the honor they deserve, comes knowledge we might gain. By learning about the ways in which our veterans have secured our liberty, we are ultimately able to develop a stronger sense of appreciation for our country’s values. Their stories and war experiences not only keep us informed, but more so, allow us to learn from their heroism and courage. Consequently, we might be able to take what we have learned from them in order to face our own challenges for the benefit of both ourselves and future generations. Our veterans deserve the utmost respect and care. They must be heard and should never feel underserved but rather, privileged. Only then may we help to ease the pains of the scars made from history and better interpret how they have ultimately touched the lives of every American. Our veterans are prime examples of bravery and are, essentially, the constructors of America’s independence. The history written by America's veterans is the cornerstone upon which hope for our future is built. Their sacrifices have changed our lives forever.

“Our flag waves because they did not waver,” she added.

“We must learn to carry on the legacy of those who have served and ultimately, dedicate ourselves to their support and care. One need not be a relative of an American veteran to appreciate what they have done for our country. If you are a veteran, you are family. This is America, the country that I love, where history and hope fuse together, sustaining the generations to come.”
Bertomo, a member of the Class of 2018 at the Academy of the Holy Angels, learned about the VOD contest while she was researching scholarship opportunities.

The Voice of Democracy essay contest was established 70 years ago. According to the VFW website (, approximately 40,000 high school students from the United States enter every year.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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