VFW program fosters patriotism through students’ essay contest

Senior Vice Commander John Collier, back left, Lavonda Thompson, front left, Savannah Rae Bailey, Ali Anliker, Lucky Esposito, Chloe Davis, Nicholas Shipp, John Jacob Bercaw, Megan Deadwyler amd Diane Collier, the auxiliary president, were pleased with the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Rocket Post 4534 announced the winners in the Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest, which is for elementary school students, and Voices of Democracy, which is for high school students.

The winners in the Patriot’s Pen essay contest were:

First place — Megan I. Deadwyler from Roosevelt Elementary School in Cocoa Beach. She was awarded $300.

Second place — John Jacob Bercaw from Apollo Elementary School in Titusville. He was awarded $250

Third place — Ali Anliker from Apollo Elementary School in Titusville. He was awarded $175.

Patriot’s Pen is a VFW program that fosters patriotism by encouraging youth to examine the nation’s history and their own experiences in modern American society through its essay-writing contest.

Each year more than 165,400 students in grades 6 to 8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards for a chance to win money for college, as well as an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national first place winner.

Students draft a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic annual theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.

The state winners will receive at least $500. The first place national award is currently $5,000.

Among the other participants in the contest were: Chloe A. Davis; Amaya R. Cox, Lucky A. Esposito and Nicholas Shippy, all from Apollo Elementary School in Titusville, and Savanah Rae Bailey, from Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School.

Since 1947, the Voice of Democracy has been the VFW premier scholarship program. Each year, nearly 57,000 high school students compete for more than $2 million in scholarships and incentives. Students complete by writing and recording an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme is: “Is this the Country the founders envisioned”?

This year’s winner of the Voices of Democracy was John P. Deluca, a student at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. He was awarded $500.

The VFW Rocket Post 4534 also selected the 2020-2021 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award winner. Amy Farner of South Lake Elementary School was awarded $500.

The VFW selects teachers who best instill a sense of national pride in their students and who teach citizenship education topics regularly and promote America’s history and traditions effectively.

Program coordinator LaVonda Thompson said the program is held each year. Students can go to vfwfl.org