BRATTLEBORO—Seventy-five students, parents, teachers, judges, and friends gathered at Carl M. Dessaint Post 1034 on Nov. 17 for a dinner to honor the local VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay winners.
Since 1947, the Veterans of Foreign Wars have sponsored the Voice of Democracy. Each year, nearly 40,000 high school-age students from across the United States compete for $2.1 million in college scholarships and incentives by writing and recording a five-minute audio essay on an annual patriotic theme.
The theme for the 2018-19 competition is “Why My Vote Matters.” The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s university, college or vocational/technical school. 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.
The VFW’s Patriot’s Pen essay contest is for students in grades 6-8 that “encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.”
The theme for the 2018-19 competition is “Why I Honor the American Flag.” The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $55,000, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level.
The Nov. 17 dinner program was opened by Post 1034 Americanism chairwoman Pat Como and VFW Auxiliary President Eric Buckley.
Scholarship chairwoman Darlene Nebelski and Past Post Commander Richard Campbell assisted as each student read their speech and received a flag, a check from the post and auxiliary, and a certificate according to their placement.
The local Voice of Democracy winners were: first place, Nicholas Campbell, and second place, Joslynn Wright. Both students are from Brattleboro.
The Patriot’s Pen winners were: first place, Tristan Caroll; second place, Alex Lowe III; third place, Lillian Butler. All three students are from Kurt Hattin Homes in Westminster.
There were 27 participants in all for both programs this year. Tristan Caroll, Alex Lowe III, and Nicholas Campbell will continue on to the District level for judging.
Winners from the District level will advance to Department (state) level for judging. Winners at the state level will continue on to a trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition.