Friday, November 18, 2022

VFW recognizes ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ winners

By Ed Pierce

Three Windham students have been honored as this year’s winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition and the “Voice of Democracy” audio essay contest sponsored by VFW Post 10643.

Winners of the VFW Post 10643's 2022 essay contests
were honored at the Windham Veterans Center on Nov. 11.
From left are 'Voice of Democracy' winner Hunter Edson,
Patriot's  Pen winner Evangeline Williams, and Lance Lake,
who finished second in the Patriot's Pen competition.
According to VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman, the annual competition encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It provides them with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

The “Voice of Democracy” competition is open to all high school students, grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. For this year, students were asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay (on an audio CD) about this year's theme "Why is the Veteran Important?"

Goodman said that Hunter Edson, a Windham Academy Academy senior, submitted the winning audio-essay. He was presented with a certificate for his achievement and a check for $250 at an event at the Windham Veterans Center and qualifies to compete in the district-level “Voice of Democracy” competition.

Winners of the district competition advance to the state level and if successful there, are entered in the national VFW contest with a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and an opportunity to win a $35,000 college scholarship on the line.

Edson said he was shocked and amazed that his audio-essay was chosen as this year’s VFW Post 10643 winner.

“Having the opportunity to go to that amazing event at the Windham Veterans Center was truly breathtaking. I am very grateful for our veterans and the people at the VFW for giving students around the country this amazing opportunity,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something greater, I mean ‘Voice of Democracy,’ that’s saying a lot in and of itself. But I for one am just very happy that I get to be a part of that voice. Winning this year has been a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

He says he plans on saving his prize money for either college or to put it aside to help purchase his dream car, a Chevy Camaro.

The “Patriot's Pen” essay competition is open to all middle school students, including home schoolers, in grades 6 to 8, Goodman said. Students were invited to write a 300- to 400-word essay on this year's theme, "My Pledge to Veterans?”

Like the “Voice of Democracy” contest, the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition local winners advance to compete at the district-level. District winners compete in the VFW’s annual state competition while trying to secure a berth in the national competition.

The first-place VFW state winner in each competition receives a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and competes nationally to receive a $5,000 prize.

During the awards presentation on Veterans Day, Goodman honored this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” winner, Evangeline Williams and second-place winner, Lance Lake.

Williams is a sixth grader at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $200 for her winning essay. Lake also is a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $150 for his second-place essay.

Each year, more than 68,800 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.

Established in 1947, each year nearly 25,000 students in grades 9 to 12 from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the “Voice of Democracy” program. <

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