Each year more than 132,000 students in grades
6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place
winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $54,500, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid
trip to Washington, D.C.
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
Shane Stafford, a 6th-grade student, was named the 2015-16 Patriot's Pen 1st-place winner.
His essay on the 2015-16 theme, "What Freedom Means to Me," won him a $5,000 award. Shane was sponsored by VFW Post 10468 and its Auxiliary in Searchlight, Nev.
Read Shane's winning essay.
Watch Shane deliver his winning essay.
See the complete list of 2016 national winners.
YOU TOO CAN WIN!
WHO CAN ENTER:
The Patriot's Pen program is open to students in grades 6-8 (on the Nov. 1 deadline), who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial school or home study program in the United States and its territories.
HOW TO ENTER:
Click here to access the Patriot's Pen 2016-17 entry form and brochure.
To view a complete list of all national awards available, click here.
If you experience problems with downloading or printing the
application, please try to access the entry form using Internet
Explorer. If you continue to experience problems, please contact
the VFW National Headquarters at email@example.com for
The 2016-17 theme is: The America I Believe In
Students can ask a teacher or youth group leader to supervise their progress in the competition. Then students can contact a local participating VFW Post and establish a contact person who is a member of that Post or its Auxiliary.
Essays must be no less than 300 words and cannot exceed 400 words. They should be submitted to the Post, along with the completed Patriot's Pen entry form no later than the November 1 deadline.
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-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.
Read the winning essay from 2015.