Meridian Star

April 30, 2013

Students can win big in VFW essay contest

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Tens of thousands of high school students compete each year to win the coveted college scholarships sponsored by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its Ladies Auxiliary.

    The contests feature essays written by students in grades 9-12, giving them an opportunity to express themselves on democratic ideas and principles.

    "We at the VFW believe strongly in good citizenship and fostering patriotism," said Norm Copeland, commander of VFW Post 12124 in Meridian and the Voice of Democracy Patriots Pen chairman. "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."

    The theme of this year's contest is "Why I'm Optimistic About our Nation's Future." Students must write a 300-400 word essay expressing their views based on the annual theme and record a three to five minute essay on an audio cassette tape or audio CD. They then present their recording, typed essay, and entry form to their local VFW post.

    Thousands of dollars in scholarships can be won. Students begin by competing at the local post level and progress to the district and state competitions before being qualified to vie for national honors against the winners from other states. All state winners receive a four day trip to Washington, D.C. A total of $152,000 is awarded to the national finalists with the first place college scholarship worth $30,000. Other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000.

    "Each year the VFW awards more than $2.3 million in scholarship money," said Copeland. "About 50,000 students from across this great nation compete each year so the competition is tough but the rewards are well worth the effort."

    The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (VOD) in 1947 to foster patriotism.

    Students or teachers can contact Copeland for entry forms and questions about the contests. Entries are due to the local VFW post no later than Nov. 1, 2013 to be eligible for the competition. For more information, contact Copeland at 601-282-5866 or write him at Post 12124 which is located at 6425 Bounds Road, Meridian, MS 39307, or go online to