Each year more than 132,000 students in grades 6 to 8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The essay contest encourages young individuals to examine America’s history, and 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. This year’s theme was Why I Honor the American Flag.
This year, Hayden Ray of Creston, won both the local post #1797 and District 4 Patriot’s Pen contest.
Evan Hagen, of Osceola, won both the local post #1797 and District 4 contest for the high school division which is called Voice of Democracy.
Hagen’s essay was selected as a state winner, but whether he received first, second, or third place has not yet been announced. This will be announced at the VFW convention Jan. 19.
The only copy of Hagen’s essay has been sent to the state VFW to be judged for placing.
Below is an excerpt of Ray’s essay:
“To me the flag symbolizes where I live and where I come from. The most important reason I honor the flag is because it shows what unites us to be an American. It shows that no matter our race or religion, we are all Americans. The flag will always be an example everywhere for everyone who loves freedom with honor. It demonstrates the affection of our nation, fellow citizens, and the proud future we all share together as one. Men and Women who have ever served this country and even died in battle deserve to be honored and represented by the flag. They sacrificed and put their life on the line to defend and protect our country. Police Officers, Firefighters, and EMTs make sacrifices by answering the calls of emergency and deserve to be respected and recognized. They keep us safe and out of harm’s way in our community all over the country.”
Middle school students in grades 6 through 8 can submit an essay to the Patriots Pen contest. High school students in grades 9 through 12 can submit their essays to the Voice of Democracy contest. In addition to their essay, high school students must submit a recording of themselves reading their essay aloud.
For the local contest, judges are local community members. They choose the top three essays in each division. Students chosen win a monetary prize and their essays move on to the district contest. Winners of the district contest are then judged in the state contest.
The contests are held annually for middle and high school students.