Each year more than 138,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW's Patriot's Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $900,000 in state and national awards. Each first place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America's history, along with 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.
The Patriot's Pen program is open to 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade students enrolled by the Oct. 31 deadline in public, private, parochial school, or home study program in the U.S., its territories or its possessions. Dependents of U.S. military or civilian personnel in overseas schools are also eligible to participate.
HOW TO ENTER
Download and complete the Patriot's Pen entry form and brochure. Essays must be no less than 300 words and cannot exceed 400 words. They should be submitted to the VFW Post, along with the completed Patriot's Pen entry form no later than the October 31 deadline. Students can ask a teacher or youth group leader to supervise their progress in the competition.
Knowledge of the theme is worth 30 points. You must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in your work. Demonstrate you have researched the issue extensively. Theme development is worth 35 points. Answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Relate the theme to your own experiences. Clarity of ideas is worth 35 points. Write your essay in an easy-tounderstand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.