President George Washington shared this sentiment: “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hold this same heartfelt view.
The National VFW website shares, “Working alongside America’s youth and instilling a sense of patriotism has always been — and will always be — a VFW priority.”
The Veterans of Foreign War throughout the United States of American annually hosts local competitions in middle and high schools, challenging students to submit their writings on Patriotic subjects, stating, that the competition is “dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America”.
The competitions are also open to homeschooled students as well.
There are two writing contests. The Voice of Democracy is for high school students, grades 9-12. Their writing is to be an audio-essay and this year’s theme poses a question; “Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?” Each state winner competes for the top national $30,000 scholarship prize. More than 51,000 competed last year.
The Patriot’s Pen is a written essay, for grades 6-8 and their question to answer this year is, “What is Patriotism to Me?” Entrants vie for the top award of $5,000 and last year more than 138,000 students entered.
The students compete locally, and the 1st place winners take home a $75.00 check and 2nd place $50.00, from Craig VFW Post #4491 and then compete in District where 1st place takes $200.00 check. Those winners go forward to State for a chance to share in scholarships and awards of $500 – $1000 and then to nationals.
In addition to local, regional and state competitions, the first-place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
In total, more than $3 million in scholarships and awards are presented each year.
Student entries may be submitted (along with a completed entry form which can be obtained from their VFW or online) to their local participating VFW Post. The deadline for entries for both programs is midnight on Oct. 31, 2020.
Randi K. Law, Communications Manager for the VFW said this; “The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in over 6,000 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at vfw.org.”
Last year, Billy Lee, Post Commander of local VFW Post #4491, was happy to present students with their awards and welcomes students to contact him for a brochure to enter this year’s contests. His email is [email protected] or call at (540) 864-6169.
The VFW site shares, “Without our nation’s veterans, America wouldn’t be the great nation it is today. Our youth deserve to learn about our rich history, traditions and the role of our veterans in creating and shaping America.”