2021 VFW Virtual Parade of Winners

2021 Virtual Parade of Winners

If you missed the VFW's first-ever, virtual Parade of Winners, watch it on demand now to see who was crowned winner of the top $30,000 prize!
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2021 Virtual Parade of Winners

Every year, nearly 230,000 of our nation's youth compete in the VFW's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen audio essay competitions for their chance to win a portion of more than $3 million in college scholarships and awards.

The competitions culminate with the Parade of Winners event, designed to celebrate and recognize the contests’ top national winners. 

This year, the VFW hosted its first-ever, virtual Parade of Winners on April 1, live on Facebook. 

During the historic event, VFW and VFW Auxiliary state and national leadership, representatives from program sponsors Twisted X and Dell, and this year’s 52 Voice of Democracy Department (state) winners came together from all over the world as we crowned the 2021 national Voice of Democracy first place winner.

This year’s event also held a few surprises and guest appearances from those well-known to the VFW community.

Open to eligible middle and high school students, the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay competitions require students submit an essay based on a selected patriotic theme. Winning entries selected by local VFW Posts go on to compete at their District and Department (state) level, with state winners competing at the national level.

The Voice of Democracy top prize is the $30,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship, and the Patriot’s Pen grand prize winner receives the $5,000 Paul A. Spera Past Commander-in-Chief Award.


VOD winner

Voice of Democracy

Established in 1947, our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 64,500 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2.1 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. 

 About the 2019-20 winner ...

Shruthi Kumar, a high school senior from Marian High School in Omaha, Nebraska, was named the 2019-20 Voice of Democracy first place winner. Shruthi's speech on the theme, "What Makes America Great," won her a $30,000 college scholarship. Shruthi was sponsored by VFW Post 1581 in Omaha, Nebraska. Watch as Shruthi delivered her winning speech during the Parade of Winners ceremony at the 2020 VFW Legislative Conference. 

Patriots Pen winner

Patriot's Pen

Each year more than 165,400 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 $1.4 million 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! 

About the 2019-20 winner ...

Ruby Howe, a seventh grade student from Rochester Hills, Michigan, was named the 2019-20 Patriot's Pen first place winner. Her essay on the theme, "What Makes America Great," won her a $5,000 award. Ruby was sponsored by VFW Post 334 in Lake Orion, Michigan. Watch as Ruby delivered her winning essay during the 2020 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.