Tag Archive: youth essay

Its VFW student essay contest Time!  

Enter the Voice of Democracy for a chance to win a $35,000 scholarship. VFW

The contest is open to students residing in the Edmonds and Mukilteo School Districts. Students attending private schools or being home-schooled are eligible to enter the contest. 

The Youth Essay Program is for students in grades 3-5. It requires an essay, not to exceed 250 words, that should address the topic, “What does the word “veteran” mean to you?” Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three essay winners in each of the three grade levels.

Students in grades 6-8 are eligible to enter the “Patriot’s Pen” program. This requires a 300- to 400-word written essay on the topic, “How are you inspired by America?” Cash prizes are awarded for the first-, second- and third-place winning essays.  

“Voice of Democracy,” the third program, is an audio essay contest for students in grade 9-12. To enter, a student must prepare a three- to five­minute recording that addresses the topic, “What are the greatest attributes of our democracy?” Cash prizes will be awarded to the three entries judged to be the best.  

The winning entries in each of the three contests will be forwarded to the VFW District level for further consideration.   “Voice of Democracy,” the third program, is an audio essay contest for students in grade 9-12. To enter, a student must prepare a three- to fiveminute recording that addresses the topic, “What are the greatest attributes of our democracy?” Cash prizes will be awarded to the three entries judged to be the best. The winning entries in each of the three contests will be forwarded to the VFW District level for further consideration.  

Enter Patriot's Pen for a chance to win $5,000 in scholarships and awards. VFW

Detailed instructions as well as an entry form that must accompany each submission can be obtained online here. All contest entries, along with the completed entry form, must be submitted to VFW Post 8870 no later than Oct. 31, 2023. Youth Essay and Patriot Pen entries may be submitted online to [email protected] or they can be mailed to VFW Post 8870, P.O. Box 701, Edmonds, WA

VFW District 1 Youth/Teacher Awards 

On Jan 7 we held the District 1 2022-2023 Youth Essay and Teacher of the Year Awards. We would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners at the District level and wish them luck at the Department level in the coming weeks! 

VFW District 1 Youth/Teacher Awards

Voice of Democracy – Steven Locke
Patriots Pen – Brendan Stinson
Youth Essays – Eloise Liao 

We would also like to recognize this year’s Teachers of the year!
High school – Heather Hunsberger submitted by Arlington post 1561
Middle School – Michelle Bannon submitted by Sultan post 2554
Elementary school – Kevin Mandoske submitted by Monroe post 7511 

VFW Youth Essay Contests Underway 

The following article is being published in our local media to promote our annual Youth Essay Contests. If you have family members or friends who qualify in these age groups, please encourage them to apply. 

Every year, Edmonds Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8870 sponsors a group of student essay contests, along with the rest of the VFW throughout the nation. Applications are made available through the local schools but students may also enter directly by filling out the application and submitting their entry to VFW Post 8870 prior to Oct. 31. Home schooled students are welcome to participate. The Oct. 31 deadline may seem a long way off, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about these competitions, which are also scholarship opportunities: 

Voice of Democracy – audio essay competition for high school students. 

Patriot’s Pen – essay contest for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. 

Youth Essay – contest is open to elementary students in grades 3-5. 

VFW sponsors these contests to promote patriotism and help students further their education by awarding more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives, to regional, state and national winners. 

This year’s theme for the Patriot’s Pen written essay contest is “My Pledge to Our Veterans,” and the theme for the Voice of Democracy audio essay competition is “Why is the Veteran Important?” The younger essayists are asked to write on “Why are Veterans So Important to Us?” 

Contest rules and entry forms can be found via the following link to the VFW Department of Washington web site: https://vfwwa.org/di/vfw/v2/default.asp?pid=79734

Entries may be submitted to Edmonds VFW Post 8870, PO Box 701, Edmonds, WA 98020 

Youth Essays 

In place of our usual speaker, Ashton Fairchild, our 2021-22 Patriot’s Pen award winner presented his essay: 

Ashton Fairchild
Ashton Fairchild

“How Can I Be A Good American?” 

How can you be a good American, you may ask? Well, there are several ways you can, ranging from simple tasks to complex events. For starters, you can comply with basic laws, regardless of if they are enforced commonly or not. Simple things you can do to be a good American include staying to the speed limit to keep others safe and complying with COPPA and other data laws to keep our children safe. Though it may be hard to follow certain laws sometimes, especially at a young age where many data laws apply, it is wise to comply with as many of those as possible. As well as that, you can comply with more complex laws. 

You can also be a good American by respecting our veterans and those who fought for our country in long, tiring wars. They should be remembered for everything they have done to keep America free, for all. Even though we already have days like Veterans Day to honor those who fought, that does not mean we should not respect them on days other than those. They deserve attention for their efforts in battle to keep other countries from colonizing our land. 

Yet another way to be a good American is to respect others for who they are. One unique thing about the U.S.A. is the fact that you can be whatever you would like to be in terms of religion, interests, attraction, and hobbies, and nobody is there to prevent you, unless, of course, there are legal concerns involved. Especially since it is perfectly fine for people to be who they want to be, and even though the United States has freedom of speech, you should not abuse them for it. Respect others for who they are, not for who you want them to be. (Ashton, a 7th grade student at Harbor Point Middle School in Mukilteo, is the grandson of our own Jim Traner) 

Ashton Fairchild 

VFW Scholarship Essay

The Post Scholarship Committee chose one of the four winners’ essays to share with our membership as representative of the work of our applicants and winners. That essay follows. 

What freedom means to me and how our Constitution establishes and maintains a culture of freedom in our country 

by Taylor Schindler 

During this uncertain time we are living in, with the pandemic and the absurdly disrespectful events that occurred at the Capitol building on January 6 of this year, recognizing freedom is more important than ever. Growing up in a military family, I have been taught the importance of freedom, as well as respecting the grounds on which freedom is upheld. Freedom is fought for everyday by the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect ours. However, I often find that it’s taken for granted while the true definition of freedom gets twisted to one’s beliefs. To me, freedom is, first and foremost, being able to walk outside without fearing I might walk into a war zone, but it’s also much more than that. In today’s world, it’s important to recognize that freedom is having the right to speak your beliefs freely without fear of being reprimanded. When the First Amendment was adopted into the Constitution in 1791, it stated “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech…”. The moment this was placed into the Constitution, Americans had the eternal responsibility to uphold this amendment in order to keep the United States a place that respects and protects the government, the people that serve for the country and all citizens. However, it’s clear that many citizens forget to acknowledge the laws and amendments they swore to live by. 

Therefore, the Constitution provides the foundation and framework for freedom, but only we can maintain that freedom. Our adherence to the first amendment needs to take place in everyday things like listening to differing viewpoints with respect. After all, we pledge “one nation, under God” so it’s our responsibility to preserve the foundation on which this country was founded and ensure that we hold each other accountable to ourselves and God in respecting and following the Constitution. We need to work to respect, honor and protect our rights with the Constitution by voting, reading and being educated. By doing this, we can honorably recognize and protect our freedom without taking it for granted. 

My father and both grandpas (Michael Schindler- Naval Weapons Station in California/tour in Indian Ocean, Ronald Rapacz – Vietnam and George Reid – Vietnam) served in the US Navy. With their guidance, I have learned that it’s up to us to earn our freedom in any way we can, whether it’s serving to help those less fortunate than us, listening to differing opinions with respect, or becoming involved to better our communities, it is all important. My knowledge in this area has grown through my childhood as my dad works hard everyday with his non-profit organization Operation Military Family, as well as many other organizations and individuals, to ensure that our service men and women get the help they need when they come home from protecting our freedom. My immersion into this community has allowed me to realize that protecting our freedom deserves non-stop recognition. 

Voice of Democracy – Youth Essay Deadlines Loom

VFW Youth EssayVFW Post 8870 is accepting applications for the annual Voice of Democracy and Youth Essay contests. This is a great opportunity for young students from elementary through high school ages to use the skills they have learned in school to express their love of their country and of patriotism. If you know of a student who should be involved, get the application to them as soon as possible. The deadline for entry is October 31. Forms have been provided to all of the local schools. Past Commander Jim Blossey is coordinating the effort. <[email protected]>

Youth Essayists to be Feted at January Post meeting

Voice of Democracy WINNER Olivia Olson; RUNNER-UP Lara Wahid Olivia is once again also the District 1 winner and will represent Post 8870 and District 1 at the Department competition in Spokane later this month.

Patriot’s Pen WINNER Mohuwa Wahid (No Patriot’s Pen runner-up)

Youth Essay 5th grade WINNER Cole Harris; RUNNER-UP Nikolas Lopez

Youth Essay 4th grade WINNER Sara Ambachew; RUNNER-UP Brianna Reyes

We are very proud of all of the young people who entered and will feature photos and further details in the February newsletter.

Post Recognizes Local Winners of National VFW Essay Contests

At the January Post meeting, we recognized several local students as winners in the annual National VFW Essay contest. One of those honored, Edmonds-Woodway High School student Olivia Olsen, won first place for the third year in a row.


Youth Essay ContestYouth Essay Contest

The theme for this year’s Youth Essay contest for grades 4 and 5 was “Why Are Men and Women Who Serve in the Military Special?” Winners were Finley Gonzales, a 4th grade student at Endeavour Elementary School and Margaret Moon, a 5th grade student at Mukilteo Elementary School. Runners up at this grade level who also attend Mukilteo Elementary School were Joel Brannon, Abbey Summerville, and Audrey Stewart. Two 5th graders, Trevor Coble and Ethan Jacobsen, who attend Brier Elementary School, were also selected as runners-up. Margaret was presented with a $100 scholarship from the Post, and each runner up received a $25 scholarship.


NL0217_Patriots_PenPatriot’s Pen Contest 

This contest is open for Middle school students in grades 6, 7, and 8, and the theme this year was “The America I Believe In.” The winning entry was submitted by Mohuwa Wahid, of Explorer Middle School. Mohuwa follows her sister, Lara, previously a two-time winner in this competition. She received a $100 scholarship. Sara Hatab of Olympic View Middle School was named runner-up. She received a $25 scholarship.


NL0217_Voice_of_DemocracyVoice of Democracy 

Edmonds-Woodway 11th grader Olivia Olsen garnered 1st place honors and a $100 scholarship in the Voice of Democracy contest. This essay contest is open to high school students in grades 9-12. While the Youth Essay and Patriot’s Pen competition requires a written essay, the Voice of Democracy competition requires the submission of an audio essay. This year’s topic was “My Responsibility to America.” Lara Wahid, a 9th grade student at Kamiak High School was awarded runner-up honors.


Each of the students who won their respective contests, read their essays to the nearly 80 parents, family members, and VFW members who were in attendance at the Jan. 10 meeting.

The post’s student essay competition is coordinated by Fred Apgar who also serves as post chaplain. The winning entries have been forwarded to Washington State VFW for consideration at the district and state levels.

District 1 Awards for 8870

District 1 Awards for 8870District 1 Commander Don Wischman was in attendance at the July Post meeting to present Post 8870 with a number of awards recognizing our accomplishments during the 2015-16 VFW year. In these photos, Immediate Past Commander Jim Blossey is shown at top left, accepting awards from Wischman for, among other things, meeting membership goals.

District 1 Awards for 8870Also shown is (right bottom) is Chaplain and Past Commander Fred Apgar, accepting certificates of recognition of his tireless efforts in coordinating so many of our Post projects, including our Relief Fund, Teacher of the Year, Freedom Scholarship and Youth Essay. In addition to his leadership of our Post, Fred performs many of those same functions at the district level.

Youth Essay

Youth Essay Contests

Voice of Democracy Contest

“In Serving in Our Military Is There Pride?” by Katarina Nguyen

“I’m sorry; you didn’t make it. I will live my life for you”.

The crumpled letter is overlooked, tucked away in the crevices of the Boots to Books Monument erected for soldiers; a message from one soldier to another: one hero to another. This soldier has spent his birthday surviving a surprise ambush; this soldier has witnessed his best friend being blown to pieces; this soldier has been through the fiery depths of near-death and has scratched his way back. These soldiers enlisted because it was their intrinsic duty towards their country; they enlisted to stop the inherent evils of the world; they enlisted for you and me, America. I’ve had the honor of speaking to soldiers from all walks of life. Their unanimous answer to my inquiry, “is there pride in serving in our military?” replays in my mind: “I have lost brothers and sisters, a part of my soul. But being there, for my family and my country, I am proud.” These soldiers are interwoven in an intricate tapestry of American pride, each thread a vibrant spark of red, white, and blue: the colors of freedom.

94 year old P-39 pilot Buck enters the room, with thick glasses perched on his wrinkled face. The colonel’s sunken eyes remain proud as he recollects his 137 flight missions during World War II: Smoke and flames choked the air as airplanes wildly spiraled downwards and out of control. Seeing the white, blossoming parachutes though, he knew some pilot was being saved. As the bursts swirled towards the ocean, a navy was waiting. Buck’s pride is apparent.

Tom saunters in; as a medic Staff Sergeant during the Korean War, he is an unsung hero. Tom whispers, “It overwhelms you: a three ton truck full of U.S. men, dead. The KIAs were stacked like cardboard until spring”. Tears threatened to spill for those he couldn’t save; he hasn’t cried in 30 years. He has saved lives, working through icy winters and blazing summers in the 23rd infantry of the second division. Despite everything, Tom’s pride is apparent.

Jim, a proud E-5 Sergeant, lost his best friend during the Vietnam War: Ron was only 19. Kevin lost 241 brothers and sisters, in a single terrorist attack in Lebanon. Peter was a fortunate survivor of an Iraqi suicide car bomb; he also missed his five-week old son growing up while serving in Afghanistan. James remembers the friends he lost in Europe from the Cold War. These soldiers have seen limbs blown apart and bodies strewn about amidst rapid gunfire and warfare, the fleeting image of their loved ones as their last thoughts. With each life lost, is the loss of a caring father, an optimistic boy scout, a quiet sister, a beloved American. Yet, amongst this loss is pride. Patriots fight in air, land, and sea, for you and me, America. They carry their hearts out onto the bloodied battle field and bear the burden of sacrifice to protect our proud nation.

We will perpetually set the sacred table: the bitter lemon wedge and salt grains of fate and tears, the vacant chair of loss, the delicate black napkin of captivity, the lone overturned glass of an uneaten meal, the pure white candle of peace, the single blood-red rose and the ribbon of hope, the rough grains of salt spelling out the word “hero”, all placed on the simple white tablecloth of a soldier’s pure heart. Our nation takes pride in honoring our heroes.

Throughout history, brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines -at home and abroad- have fought to protect our nation, our freedom, and our values. They continue to bear the uniform of the United States of America from the 235 years since our nation’s declaration of independence. It’s quixotic to believe that you and I could enjoy this sweet freedom without the blood, sweat, and tears and the unwavering determination of those serving in our military that we often take for granted. The pride arising from standing shoulder to shoulder with brothers and sisters in arms, under a single flag is immeasurable.

So, as the rain begins to fall and the wind picks up, the crinkled letter is swept away and the ink smears into bright multihued splotches. The soldier’s words fade away to join the soldier’s fallen friend, but his message is etched in my mind. Despite the loss, there is hope. Among the crevices springs life. In our military, there is pride.