A local Veterans of Foreign of Wars post is encouraging students to be the voice of democracy by participating in the annual essay contest.
Each year, VFW hosts an essay contest for students for a chance to win scholarships and other incentives. High school students can participate in “Voice of Democracy,” a audio-essay contest for a chance to win $30,000 in scholarships. Middle School students can participate in “Patriot’s Pen,” an essay contest in which winners can win money.
The VFW Post 9430 in Skyway has been making their rounds to encourage Renton students to participate.
According to Cheryl Sheeler, president of the auxiliary, the post is encouraging more students to apply because they want to “get more people involved.”
“We want patriotism to be more out there,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world. This is coming from my heart. I think we need to bring our some positive things about our country and let the students know that we’re there for them, let them know what veterans are and what they have done for the country, that they’re not forgotten.”
Sheeler said she’s been the chair of the essay contest for the past several years, and she’s continually surprised by the essays she reads.
“I’m always amazed by how thoughtful these young people are…. It’s always good to talk to these young folks,” she said. “Driving by these schools, you don’t realize how smart these kids are, and how much they have got going for them. All you see is them walking back and forth. Unless you’re directly involved with young people these days, you don’t really realize what’s going on their brains.”
Terri Reed, parent of four home schoolers in the Renton area, has had her kids to submit essays for several years.
“We have encouraged our kids to write the essays for a couple of reasons. First, it is great writing practice. It has been great over the years watching them grown in their skills. Second, researching, interviewing, and the such has allowed them the experience to the blessing of living in the USA. Many people today take living here for granted to the point of disrespecting our country and the people who have fought to maintain our freedoms. Through these essays, our children have experienced, learned and seen first hand the blessing of living in this great nation,” Reed said.
Reed said through these essays, her family has enjoyed getting to know members of the Skyway post.
“The veterans there have watched our kids grow over the years and we consider some of the members dear friends,” she said. “My boys especially appreciate being able to sit and listen to the veterans’s stories and get to know who they are.”
Prizes and scholarships are awarded at a post, district, state and national level. State winners receive an all expense paid trip to Washington DC for the national level.
The Skyway post gives every participant a taco dinner and winners receive money. As students move onto district, state and national levels, they receive more scholarship awards.
Community members, along with members of the auxiliary, judge all submissions based on a scoring guide.
For more information about the contests and how to apply, visit https://www.vfw.org/community/youth-and-education/youth-scholarships. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 31.
Editor’s Note: The following is one of last year’s winning essays written by Rachael Reed
The America I Believe In
The America I believe in starts with the words, “We the people of the United States in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The preamble of our Constitution to our great nation speaks volumes of the vision of our Founders and resonates in my heart today. Let’s look at each on more closely.
“We the people..” in my understanding means just that; we, the people. The Constitution does not begin with, “the King or the government.” The America I believe in should have involved citizens that want to actively make America stronger and not a government who tries to take our freedoms away.
Justice, domestic tranquility, common defense are freedoms that are a result of strong men and women who have protected us from having these freedoms taken away. The America I believe in will not allow tyranny, foreign or domestic, to take such precious freedoms away.
The last part of the preamble to our US Constitution mentions securing the blessings of liberty to us and our future. The America I believe in would go to great lengths to secure our liberty and not take it away. There are many foreign and domestic enemies to our liberties and we need to be extra careful to not lose them from being lazy and complacent.
If we are not wise how we handle these freedoms, they will surely be taken away from us. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The America I believe in will once again be vigilant in protecting these valuable freedoms from those who wish to take them away.