VFW writing contest, “What makes America Great?”

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Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

Country music singer Lee Greenwood is well known for his song that many Americans and most military personnel know and love, God Bless the USA. Its chorus reads: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died for me, who gave that right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend Her still today, ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God Bless the U.S.A.”

Today, it is imperative to teach children the importance of country, honor and integrity and to stand for the right things in life or they can fall for the wrong.

The National VFW website states, “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 at both the middle and high school level, 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 two writing contests are The Voice of Democracy for high school students grades 9-12 and The Patriot’s Pen Essay for grades 6-8. This year’s subject title for both is, “What Makes American Great?”

The winners compete locally. First-place winners take home a $75 check while second place earn $50 from Craig VFW Post #4491. The first place District winner takes home $200. Those winners then go forward to state for a chance to share in additional scholarships and awards.

The national high school student winner gets a $30,000 college scholarship and the middle school student wins $5,000 in scholarships.

More than 132,000 students compete annually in the Patriot’s Pen competition by writing a 300-400-word essay.

The Voice of Democracy students are to submit an audio-essay. 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.

This program provides students with the unique opportunity to express themselves, in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay.

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 Thursday, October 31.

Last year, Post Commander Bill Lee of local VFW Post #4491, was happy to present students with their awards and welcomes interested individuals to contact him for a brochure to enter this year’s contests. He can be reached via email at vvusmc4@tds.net or call by contacting (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.”

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