2022 Virtual Parade of Winners

2022 Virtual Parade of Winners

Join us April 1 at 7 p.m. CDT for the 2022 virtual Parade of Winners and see who takes home the top $30,000 prize!

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2022 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 will host its annual Parade of Winners virtually on April 7 at 7 p.m. CDT, live on Facebook. Be sure to tap “interested,” then “going” on the Facebook event to ensure you stay up-to-date and receive all event notifications. To listen to the winning essay from your state, click here

During the historic event, VFW and VFW Auxiliary state and national leadership, representatives from program sponsors Twisted X, and this year’s 52 Voice of Democracy Department (state) winners will come together from all over the world as we crown the 2022 national Voice of Democracy first place winner.

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 25,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. 

The national first place winner receives a $35,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. A complete list of other national scholarships range from $1,000-$21,000, and the first place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins at least a scholarship of $1,000. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2022-2023 Voice of Democracy entry form here.


The 2022-23 theme is: 
"Why is the Veteran Important?"

About the 2021-2022 winner ...

Daniela Mare, a junior at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, was named the 2021-2022 Voice of Democracy first place winner. Daniela's speech on the theme, "America: Where Do We Go from Here?" won her a $30,000 college scholarship. Daniela was sponsored by VFW Post 9486 and its Auxiliary in Centereach, New York. Watch as Daniela delivered her speech during the VFW's virtual Parade of Winners award ceremony.

Want to catch up on everything that happened this year? You can watch the full virtual Parade of Winners ceremony which was streamed live on Facebook, or see this year's complete list of winners.

Patriots Pen winner

Patriot's Pen

Each year, nearly 68,800 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! 

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. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2022-2023 entry form here


The 2022-23 theme is: 
"My Pledge to Our Veterans."

About the 2021-2022 winner ...

Syed Ali, an eighth grade student from Lafayette, Louisiana, was named the 2021-2022 Patriot's Pen first place winner. His essay on the theme, "How Can I Be a Good American?" won him a $5,000 award. Syed was sponsored by New Iberia, Louisiana, VFW Post 1982.

Watch as Syed delivered his winning essay, during the VFW's virtual Parade of Winners streamed live on Facebook, or see the complete list of 2022 national winners.