The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Voice of Democracy Program is open to students in grades 9-12, who are enrolled in a public, private, parochial high school or home study program throughout in the United States and its territories.
Each year, more than 51,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition, according to information about the contest.
Knowing that a democratic society needs nurturing, the VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (VOD) in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles.
The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000- $16,000 and the first-place winner from each state VFW Department wins an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
The deadline to enter his year’s program is Nov.1 and the theme is “Is Our Constitution Still Relevant?”
Here’s how to enter: Entries begin at the local post level. Once the student creates an essay and burns an audio version to a CD, he or she can submit a typed version, CD and the Voice of Democracy entry form to the local participating VFW.
Students should record a reading of the draft to a CD. The recording can be no shorter than 3 minutes and no longer than 5 minutes, plus or minus 5 seconds.
Originality is worth 30 points. Treatment of the theme should show imagination and human interest.
Content is worth 35 points: Clearly express your ideas in an organized manner. Fully develop your theme and use transitions to move smoothly from one idea to the other.
Delivery is worth 35 points: Speak in a clear and credible manner.
In addition, there is The Patriot’s Pen program, for students in grades 6-8, who are enrolled in a public, private, parochial high school or home study program across the United States and its territories.
The deadline for this program is also Nov. 1 and this year’s theme is “What I Would Tell America’s Founding Fathers.”
Essays must be no less than 300 words and cannot exceed 400 words and should be submitted to the local Chelsea Post, along with the completed Patriot’s Pen entry form no later than the Nov. 1 deadline.
“The VFW believes strongly in good citizenship and fostering patriotism. That’s why we encourage youthful minds to examine our nation’s history and their own experiences in modern American society through our Patriot’s Pen youth essay-writing contest,” according to information about the contest.
Annually, about 126,000 students from grades 6-8 enter. One first-place winner from each state competes to win one of 46 national awards totaling $46,000. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.
Knowledge of the theme is worth 30 points. Essays must show a thorough knowledge of the theme and demonstrate that the theme has been researched extensively.
Theme development is worth 35 points: Answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Relate the theme to your own experiences.
Clarity of ideas is worth 35 points: Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.